The New York Islanders began a home-and-home with the Capitals in Washington and snapped a five-game winless streak with a surprisingly thorough and structure-disciplined game.
The 4-1 final is a fair reflection, but the game didn’t break open until the third period when our Adult Son Noah Dobson scored his 13th of the season, which held up as the game-winner.
More impressively, but likely forgotten to the dustbin of a playoff-less season, the Isles did it without Brock Nelson and Zdeno Chara, late scratches as illness of various sorts course through the team. Ilya Sorokin made 32 saves to do his part in earning the win.
#Isles Barry Trotz: “Our team is tired. You can tell, we’re all sick. We’re on fumes. The schedule has chewed us up and the guys are battling. This was a really good win. A couple of big pieces in Big Z and Nellie (out)...,Guys stepped up. It was good.”— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) April 27, 2022
The Islanders thought that they opened scoring but Kyle Palmieri doesn’t just score goals, he gets them disallowed. His unofficial seventh (according to Barry Trotz) disallowed goal of the season was another beauty, as he undressed Nick Jensen and deposited a backhand. It would’ve been his 200th career NHL regular season goal, but the Capitals challenged and won because Zach Parise bumped their goalie while battling Dmitry Orlov.
That left the score at 0-0 and the Capitals got on the board (officially) first, at 10:24 from Conor Sheary.
But the refreshingly effective Isles power play tied it six minutes later with its first of two goals. After Kieffer Bellows was stopped on a good chance, Ryan Pulock sent a missile home, just his fifth goal of the season.
The middle period was a 9-5 shots (in favor of the Caps) structure-fest, and we’ll not speak more of it.
With the Putin-esque Tom Wilson in the box, Dobson got his go-ahead goal, also on the power play, just three minutes into the third.
The Islanders continued to play “the right way” and all that, and when Andy Greene went to the box, instead of conceding a tying goal, they got a classic shorthanded effort from Casey Cizikas.
It was the kind of goal that would be amazing if this were a playoff game or high-stakes playoff-chase game, something reminiscent of the 2013, 2015-16 runs. Instead, it’s just a trivial yet somehow delightful moment that only Mike and Dan will recall on an Islanders Anxiety podcast six years from now.
FROM THE GROUND TO THE BACK OF THE NET. pic.twitter.com/eRTCZOFKbb— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 27, 2022
With the Isles up 3-1 and the Caps not having their best, the rest of the game didn’t feel in much doubt. To remove any question, we got the 27th goal of the season from captain and #27 Anders Lee, slapshot guy, with a nice setup from the home team:
Can't spell Islanders without... pic.twitter.com/p1SzeJfZ17— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 27, 2022
As we all painfully know, there are no playoff implications for the Isles. That dream was faint at mid-year and has been gone for a while now.
The Capitals, missing Alex Ovechkin — and he may be out next game too — missed a chance to pass the Penguins, who were rolled by Connor McDavid and the Oilers. Washington still has a chance to pass Pittsburgh if they win both of their remaining games, both in New York. If they do it, they can face the Rangers in the playoffs. If they don’t, they’ll draw the terrifying Florida Panthers.
But first, they must again deal with an Isles team with nothing to play for but the fun of messing with a team destined for a first-round exit.
#Isles Ryan Pulock on snapping 0-4-1 skid: "“We talked about before the game just playing the right way, doing the little things that makes us successful. I thought tonight we did a good job of that. The PK was big, the power play was big and we did a good job 5-on-5.”— Andrew Gross (@AGrossNewsday) April 27, 2022
Thus Spaketh Trotz
Capitals Cup-winning coach Barry Trotz was pleased with the effort, a refreshing change from the last few games. The win also gave him cover to acknowledge the insane schedule they’re dealing with in April.
"I thought our special teams were really good and our 5-on-5 play was pretty structured. We managed the game the way our group had to manage it. Our centers did a real good job, our winger did a good job on the walls and we got saves when we needed them"— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) April 27, 2022
Trotz ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/aDXoOyfOK8
They meet again Thursday at Belmont, before the Isles close out the season Friday against the Lightning.