The Islanders stepped it up and played some good tight hockey for a big road win.
Look what happens when you come out and play sixty-minutes of hockey, a well earned win. The Islanders took it on the chin over the weekend after blowing their chance for home-ice advantage. What was needed from the team was to let the past month of hockey go and start off on the right foot.
Yes, it is only one game but the Islanders should feel good about the effort they left on the ice. Pretty much anyone that has an opinion on the series has picked the Washington Capitals to win. The last month the Isles have not made any believers out of the critiques that get to voice what they feel is their educated prediction to the series.
The Isles just had to move forward. The buzz around the team has been all negative. Jack Capuano is under a microscope, Jaroslav Halak’s ability to get his game back is in question. The team lacks playoff experience and has not shown any of the magic from their mid-season form. We get it, they have been terrible as of late.
Breakdown the equation and it is game one Islanders. They received contributions from all four lines. The fourth line again and again came out banged bodies, blocked shots and forced turnovers.
Each line played great two-way hockey. It was a truly well-earned win for the Isles. Right after Brock Nelson opened the scoring the team began to get comfortable and the bright lights of the playoffs went away. It just became another game of hockey.
The second period had Ryan Strome score his first playoff goal off a great John Tavares draw in the offensive-zone. Strome threaded the needle putting it over Holtby’s right shoulder. Bailey scored little under seven minutes later putting in his own rebound as Holtby was laid out.
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The Islanders Penalty kill are well aware they are going to have their hands full going against the best PP in the league. The special teams killed a huge penalty at 7:47 in the third, Cal Clutterbuck was called for a hi-sticking. The score was 3-1 and for Islander fans a 3-1 lead late in the third means trouble. The Isles could not afford giving up a goal and getting the crowed back into it.
The PK killed the penalty and the score remained the same. Halak was solid, stopping 24 of 25 shots.
The closing minutes of the game had the Caps pull Holtby and Brock Nelson sealed it officially with an empty net goal at 18:41.
Now the Islanders need to use this win as a reminder what then can do, not get to gitty and come out Friday with the same all business attitude.