It didn’t start well but it sure ended well as the New York Islanders win Game 1 4-2 over the Washington Capitals.
“Good things come to those who wait.” We had to wait an hour for the start of the New York Islanders series opener against the Washington Capital after the Boston Bruins/Carolina Hurricanes game went to double overtime.
Important lineup decision for the Capitals prior to puck drop was the announcement that Norris Trophy favorite John Carlson would suit up for the Capitals after missing the round-robin.
Having him on their roster was a big boost for the Capitals, at least on paper.
If there’s anything we learned from the Florida series, it was that the Islanders penalty kill was, to put it lightly, not good. Only the Chicago Blackhawks and Winnipeg Jets had a worse penalty kill than the Isles in the qualifying round/round-robin.
With a noted power-play sniper on the other team in Alex Ovechkin staying out of the box was, again putting it lightly, imperative. But through the opening half of the first period, the Isles had four calls go against them.
Thankfully, they didn’t go down on either of those opportunities and were able to leave the first-period level.
Trotz likely told his players to remain physical but to be disciplined through the rest of the game. The parade to the penalty box had to stop. Unfortunately, it didn’t.
First, it was Matt Martin for a confusing interference call that the Capitals converted on, then it was an offensive zone hooking call on Jordan Eberle while the Islanders were on the power play that the Capitals also converted on. Both power-play goals were scored by T.J. Oshie.
That second goal was dubious with the puck under Varlamov’s pad. The back ref lost sight of the puck and he decided not to whistle. Which, you know, is what he’s supposed to do.
While the Islanders held a parade to the penalty box through the opening 40 minutes, they dominated play at 5on5. Admittedly, they only played 51 percent of the game at 5on5. But clearly the Islanders made the best use of that 51 percent.
In 20:14 minutes of 5on5 time through the opening 40 minutes, the Islanders had a 64 to 36 Corsi-for advantage, they held an 8-2 shot on net advantage, and an all-important 3-1 high-danger chances for advantage.
Advantages that they were finally able to capitalize on through Jordan Eberle who put this knuckler past Braden Holtby.
The Islanders weren’t getting outworked. They weren’t getting outmuscled. The Islanders were letting their emotions get the best of them. And it was sinking them in the game. Stay out of the box and the Isles should dominate proceedings.
It looked like Barry Trotz’s second intermission talk sank in. The Islanders stayed out of the box in the third. (I’m not counting Leo Komarov’s guaranteed third-period stick foul.)
The Islanders would score three-unanswered goals in the third period as they raced to a 4-2 lead from a 2-1 deficit. One of those goals came from captain Anders Lee right in his office at the front of the goal in the opening minute of the third period.
Anders Lee desperately needed that goal. The captain was a non-factor in the Islanders four-game series against the Florida Panthers. If the Isles are going to be successful in the postseason they need their captain and former 40 goal scorer to start putting up points like one.
By keeping the game to 5on5, the Islanders exerted their dominance over the Washington Capitals with a 4-2 win. It was a sustainable game (at least at 5on5) that you can see the Islanders put in through the remainder of the postseason.
Again, it didn’t start well. But it sure as heck ended well.
Josh Bailey: 1G, 2A, 2 SOG
Where are the Josh Bailey haters? The Islanders vet put in a top-level performance for the Isles. One that his underlying numbers have been suggesting he could do through the Florida series.
Brock Nelson: 2A, 1 SOG
Nelson has been growing into the postseason for the Islanders. His two points today were critical.
Anders Lee: 1G, 3 SOG
My God, did Anders Lee ever need that goal.
Braden Holtby: 4GA, 23 Saves
Braden Holtby should have had that Jordan Eberle goal.
John Carlson: 2A, -3
He put up two points so shouldn’t that be good? Sure, but Carlsson was dreadful at 5on5 as evidenced by his -3.
Tom Wilson: 1A, 11 PIM
I shouldn’t have to explain why he’s included here.