HOW IT HAPPENED
The second half of back-to-back continues to be a struggle for the NY Islanders. With travel to Washington, D.C., the Isles started off the night sluggish and slow. Both teams took penalties within the first three and a half minutes of the game, and the Capitals dominated the Isles at five-on-five play. Hendrix Lapierre took advantage of the Isles' struggles and scored one early after a defensive zone turnover by Brock Nelson to get the Caps up 1-0. Hudson Fasching scored just his second of the season to tie the game only a minute into the second period. The Isles needed more jump and relied on the bottom six forwards to push the game. Joel Edmunson got the Caps up by one with his first of the season midway through the second period. The Islanders finally seemed to wake up during the third period and got some solid chances. After a puck battle in the corner and being shoved down, Anders Lee popped back up, stole the puck, and deked out Darcy Kuemper to tie the game at two. After a Noah Dobson penalty just a minute into overtime, Dylan Strome snipes one past Semyon Varlamov for the game-winner.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Uno reverse. This season, the Islanders' biggest fault has been the third period. They seem unable to hold on to third-period leads and are letting teams tie games with seconds left. While trailing was not in the Islanders' plan heading into tonight, the team was finally able to beat themselves and play a solid third period. Despite starting the game slowly and struggling to get their feet under them, the Islanders were finally able to keep up with the Caps in the third period. They persevered and didn't let the Caps run away with the game. They stayed in it and were rewarded with a goal that tied the game, allowing them to get a point in overtime. The Islanders stole a point tonight thanks to their play in the third period.
Semyon Varlamov also had a great game, making big saves on the Capitals' chances, especially on the penalty kill. He stood strong and kept the Islanders in the game when the Caps could have easily scored 3 or 4 more on the night. He saved 33 of 36 shots and had a .917 save percentage.
WHAT WENT WRONG
The Islanders have struggled with puck management for the past few games, but whether it was the fatigue or a lack of attention to detail, they seemed to be mishandling the puck left and right. The constant turnovers in the defensive zone led to multiple chances for the Capitals, including the Lapierre goal in the first period. The Isles have been incredibly sloppy in the neutral zone and seem to keep passing the puck to no one. Forget the back-to-back and being tired; the Islanders need to clean up their passing and zone breakouts because their goalies can't keep bailing them out after dumb mis-passes and turnovers.
After the game, head coach Lane Lambert discussed the consistent slow starts to back-to-backs and how, moving forward, things need to be better. "It's not good enough [...] I just didn't think we were closing. We spent way too much time in our zone. Our legs weren't going and as a result, we just had no juice to go north."
STATS OF THE GAME
Per Brendan Burke, tonight was the 14th straight game Noah Dobson has played 25 minutes or more this season.
In five back-to-back games this season, the Islanders have allowed their opponent to score the opening goal in four games.
Per NHL PR, the Washington Capitals are 7-0-2 when opening the scoring, and are one of two teams yet to lose in regulation when scoring first.
SOCIAL MEDIA MOMENT OF THE GAME
Paul Bissonnette and Butch Goring continue their social media battle after Butchy rejects Bissonnette's olive branch. We'll see how long this rivalry continues or if they'll let bygones be bygones for the holiday season.
The Islanders have a metropolitan division-heavy schedule to finish out 2023. The Islanders head to Raleigh, North Carolina, to take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday, November 23rd. Puckdrop is at 7:30 on MSGSN2 and BSSO.