Both teams came into the game a little weaker than they would have liked. The Washington Capitals were missing five regulars (Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Dmitry Orlov, and Ilya Samsonov), while the New York Islanders would be without forward Anthony Beauvillier.
That sounds like a big advantage for the Islanders. And it should have been but it wasn’t. The Islanders failed to take charge of the game. If there wasn’t any soul searching by management after that 2-0 loss to Jersey, they might start now because this one showed the issues on the bottom six (outside of Pageau) are real.
New York Islanders ain’t got no time for accountability
After that 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, the Islanders should have been looking to start this game on the right foot. Get at the Caps early, force them into some mistakes and ideally bury one early.
But that didn’t happen. The Islanders were casually drifting through the early part of the first period, and they paid the price when John Carlson put the Caps on the board first thanks to a Matt Martin tripping penalty (and a flubbed glove save by Varlamov).
That seemed to remind the Islanders they had a game to play and that they still had to make up for an atrocious game just a few days ago. With the Islanders top line establishing some offensive zone time, Noah Dobson is able to rifle a shot that bounces off a few Caps players to beat Vanecek.
That top line of Lee-Barzal-Eberle has been excellent for the Islanders with a 61.54% xGF. Unfortunately, they haven’t had much support. When Barzal and co. aren’t flying nor are the Islanders.
In fact, they were the only line really clicking tonight according to Trotz.
To The Second
Through the second 20 minute frame, the Islanders held the advantage in xGF with a 51.68% at 5on5 but still could leave the period with the lead. They only found their way on the board after future Hall of Famer Zdeno Chara flubbed the puck right to Barzal’s stick in the slot.
We saw this version of Mathew Barzal in 19-20. In the opening half of that68 game season, Barzal was shooting at a 20.8% efficiency. With this goal (his third of the year) number 13 was converting shots to goals at a 24% clip.
If the Isles are going to have success this season they’ll need Barzal to hold something close to that 20% efficiency throughout the rest of the season.
After taking the 2-1 lead, the Capitals would tie it up at two seven minutes later when Daniel Sprong would snap one by Semyon Varlamov on the rush.
Third Period Major Foul
Leo Komarov thrid period stick fouls are a thing for a reason. They happen often. The veteran glue-guy has a knack for giving up ill-disciplined penalties in the final frame of the game. Usually, it’s a slash or hook. This time it was a boarding call on Lars Eller that resulted in a five-minute major.
The Isles killed the penalty. They allowed only a single shot against. Just one. In five minutes. And the team’s reward for that? Leo Komarov doesn’t miss a shift. In fact, Leo was out there for the Capitals game-winning goal. Making it even worse (as if that was possible), Komarov lost his man (Justin Schultz) that lead directly to the goal.
If it were any other player, they would have been benched for that reckless penalty. But not Leo. He was out there exactly 21 seconds after returning to the bench following his five-minute penalty. That is not what I would call accountability.
(In my best Mark Forward voice) Embarrassing.
Justin Schultz (GWG, 1A): You score the game-winner with 26.4 seconds left you deserve the top spot.
Vitek Vanecek (0.941SV%): He did his job in nets and stopped just about everything.
John Carlson (1G, 1A): Two points. Nuff said.
Leo Komarov: You know why.
Barry Trotz: I love him, but this was not his night.
Fourth line: They did very little out there. All finished with a sub 20 xGF% and -50% relative HDCF.