Well... that sucked. A promising first period and a good start to the second were erased as the Islanders slowly fell apart after going up by three goals. It seems early to say it, but this was a pretty meaningful game for the playoff picture, as the team’s chances have been slipping dramatically over the past few weeks. Losing this game, especially being in the position the Islanders were in, is one of those moments where you have to wonder where the team goes from here.
The Islanders scored early, setting the tone for a great start to the game. Josh Bailey and Sebastian Aho played catch with the puck for a moment before Aho took a shot and scored, going past a Zach Parise screen.
Brock Nelson got in behind the defense just offside, and took the shot despite the whistle blowing, drawing some ire from the Capitals. Overall, the Isles were playing very well, and Anthony Beauvillier had a really nice chance saved by Darcy Kuemper.
Then, Alexander Romanov took a shot from the point that Matt Martin was able to tip past Kuemper to make it 2-0.
Sonny Milano had two of the best chances for the Capitals this period, and nearly got one back. TJ Oshie was sent to the penalty box, and on the delayed penalty, a Mat Barzal back pass caused a nervy moment as it left the zone, but Nelson intercepted it.
On the power play, Nelson had a good look that was saved, Anders Lee took a stick to the face, knocking off his helmet, which drew no call, and a Noah Dobson shot required a really good save from Kuemper, but the Isles couldn’t extend the lead further on the man advantage.
Nic Dowd had left the game in the first after a collision with Cal Clutterbuck, and would not return.
JG Pageau took the puck into the zone and made a pass to Hudson Fasching, who held on and then took a shot from a weird angle, beating Kuemper and giving the Islanders a three goal lead.
Romanov took a slashing penalty, and the Islanders killed it, keeping Clutterbuck and Pageau glued to Alex Ovechkin at different times. After the penalty kill, Ovechkin took a run at Pageau against the boards, catching him in the head just as he was turning. Pageau was wobbly and needed some support from Dobson to steady himself as he headed to the locker room.
The refs reviewed the play, having assessed no penalty at the time, but didn’t change their minds.
The Capitals seemed to get some momentum after the hit on Pageau, and after a good Ilya Sorokin save on Nicklas Backstrom, Garnet Hathaway was able to poke in the rebound through Sorokin’s legs.
Romanov and Oshie got into it after a whistle, and both were sent to the box for roughing. Quickly on the 4 on 4, Tom Wilson made it 3-2.
Surprisingly, Pageau returned to the game, which is great news for the Islanders, and especially for him, given how shaky he was immediately after the hit.
Fasching had a chance right in front of Kuemper that he just couldn’t get past him, with Kuemper stretching out to make the save. After that play, Kuemper seemed to be hurt, and the trainer came out to talk with him. Ultimately, Kuemper stayed in the game and seemed to be fine.
Wilson had a chance in front that was stopped by Sorokin, but soon after, the Capitals would tie it up as Oshie deflected an Erik Gufstafsson shot into the net, making it 3-3.
Casey Cizikas then had a chance in front of Kuemper, who had the puck on his shoulder after making the initial save. Matt Martin knocked it off Kuemper’s shoulder, and it appeared to hit a couple of Capitals skates before sliding over the goal line, but it was ruled that it had just gone directly in off Martin’s hand.
Sorokin had to make some good saves to keep the game tied, and Fasching had another attempt saved as well.
A high sticking call was missed again after Dylan Strome’s stick caught Martin up high, causing his lip to bleed.
Ultimately, regulation would end tied 3-3, and off to overtime we went.
Pageau had a breakaway chance that Kuemper saved, Nelson had a shot gloved by Kuemper, and while Sorokin made some good saves, Dmitry Orlov got in behind the defense and put a backhand past him, giving the Capitals the win.
- There’s really just no excuse for losing this game. It seemed like they fell apart around the time Pageau left, but he ultimately didn’t miss that much time vs how bad the injury seemed, playing over 16 minutes in the game.
- Brock Nelson is so wildly snakebitten it isn’t even funny. He had some good looks tonight, and just nothing is working for him.
- I feel like at this point the Islanders really need to consider finding some way to seriously reconstruct the team. There’s too many bloated contracts for players not contributing anywhere near enough, and Lane Lambert doesn’t seem like the guy capable of getting the most out of this group. I just don’t know where the Isles go from here after what’s been a mostly mediocre 45 games.
Next, the New York Islanders host the league leading Boston Bruins at UBS Arena on January 18. Last meeting, they were able to sneak a point in Boston. This time? Well, maybe this can be a turning point for the season.