Remember last August when the New York Islanders were up 3-0 in their opening-round series against the Washington Capitals? During that fourth game of the series, the Caps engaged in all of the dark arts in order to get the Islanders off their game.
It worked. The Caps beat the Isles 3-2 that night going 1/5 on the power play while the Isles would go 0/5 on their man-advantage. They did the same tonight and again walked away with a win.
The Islanders can’t win them all, but this one was frustrating because the same players that experienced this in August were here today, and still fell into the Caps trap.
New York Islanders drop first in a while
Constantly throughout this 60-minute affair, the Capitals attempted to get under the Isles skin. And that’s to some inconsistent officiating, they got away with it.
A crosscheck where Kuznetzov broke his stick on Barzal’s back went uncalled, Richard Panik goaded Scott Mayfield into a physical altercation only to instantaneously transform into Claude Lemieux like he was facing Darren McCarty. Mayfield would get a two-minute for roughing on the play.
The Caps would make things worse by scoring twice on the power play. Once on that Mayfield penalty thanks to a pretty set play capped off by Nicklas Backstrom, the second Caps PPG was courtesy of Alex Ovechkin on an undisciplined Mathew Barzal cross-checking call.
On Barzal, Barry Trotz would bench the Islanders start for a large portion of the third period. I’ll say this on the benching. I don’t mind it. Barzal took himself out of the game after letting his frustration get the best of him. But when you remember Barry Trotz sent Leo Komarov out 23 seconds after taking a five-minute major in his first game in 2021.
How about Oliver Wahlstrom
If there was one bright spot on the night it came from the Islanders start rookie. Oliver Wahlstrom scored his sixth goal of the year after pouncing on a loose puck in the slot.
Goal aside, Wahlstrom was one of the better players for the Isles tonight. He’d finish with five shots on goal, which is more than the entire team managed in the second period.
Winning and Point Streak Over
With the loss, obviously, the winning streak and point streak are over. The Caps now take the top spot in the East thanks to having the same number of points on fewer games.
Ilya Samsonov (21 saves, 0.955SV%): If not for Samsonov, the Isles leave the first with the lead.
Alex Ovechkin (1G, 1A, 2 SOG): Can’t stop, won’t stop Ovie from scoring.
Nick Backstrom (1G, 1A, 2 SOG): He has 12 goals on the season now, incredible.
Mathew Barzal: He got benched for a reason and deserved it. He can’t take these dumb penalties.
Jordan Eberle: He’s been good of late, but not today. He was practically MIA.
Josh Bailey: He wasn’t as anonymous as Eberle, but he was noticed for the wrong reasons.