Following a huge 3-2 overtime win over the Washington Capitals(9-8-4) on Wednesday and extremely large amounts of turkey on Thursday, the Islanders (16-6-0) will travel to Washington to take on those very same Capitals in the back end of a home and home series. The Islanders come into this one red hot, having won five games in a row and 11 of their past 12 contests. The Caps enter this game having lost their past two and looking to get back to their winning ways.
The major storyline for the Islanders heading into this Black Friday matchup is who will start in goal. As of late, Jaroslav Halak is absolutely on fire. The Isles netminder is currently on an eight game win streak and has only surrendered ten goals in those games. He has lowered his Goals Against Average to 2.20 and upped his save percentage to .923 during this impressive stretch. Islanders backup Chad Johnson has also had himself a nice season to this point. Johnson currently holds a record of 5-2-0 and has impressive road wins over the Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins thus far. We will not know who will go for the Islanders until Jack Capuano’s press conference tomorrow morning, but if the past two back to back sets for the Islanders are any indication, Johnson will get the nod tonight.
The key for the Islanders in this game will be stopping the Capitals red hot powerplay as well as Alexander Ovechkin. The Caps powerplay enters the game second in the league at 27.9%. On Wednesday night at the Coliseum, Ovechkin scored both of the Capitals goals on the powerplay, but at even strength the Capitals were outplayed in most facets of the game by the Islanders. As far as a strategy for stopping Ovechkin, not leaving him wide open may help.
At this point, no one knows whether we will see Justin Peters or Braden Holtby in net for the Caps on Friday as they kick off a set of back to back games. On Wednesday night at the Coliseum, it was Braden Holtby who played for Washingt0n. He played a solid game, surrendering three goals on 35 shots, with the final one being a game winner from John Tavares in overtime. Holtby’s record currently sits at 7-5-3 and he possesses a .915 save percentage. As for Washingon’s backup Justin Peters, he currently holds a 2-3-1 record. Just like the Isles, we won’t know who goes for Washington until the morning skate.
UPDATE: Chad Johnson will start in goal for the Islanders and it will be Brian Strait re-entering the lineup in place of Johnny Boychuk, who sits with an upper body injury. It appears that Braden Holtby will get the start for Washington.
This piece will be updated with lineup information and starting goalies when it becomes available. Coverage of this Black Friday matchup starts on MSG at 4:30 P.M. with puck drop set for 5:00. Lets Go Islanders!