Wednesday, December 05, 2012

A TWO-point night -- Game 25: Caps 4 - Islanders 1

A Tuesday night in early December does not make for the most exciting setting for hockey, and when the opponent is the New York Islanders, the temptation might be to sleep walk through the night.  That was the big test for the Washington Capitals as they headed off to Long Island to face the Islanders on Tuesday.  The Caps were looking to extend a two-game winning streak, while the surprising Islanders came into the game challenging for the Atlantic Division lead.

If the Caps were tempted to try to stroll through this one, it didn’t show.  After a closely contested first ten minutes, the Caps broke on top just after the ten-minute mark when Mike Ribeiro won an offense zone faceoff, and Wojtek Wolski picked up the loose puck at the side wall.  Wolski circled out and from the top of the right wing circle fired a wrist shot through a screen that goalie Evgeni Nabokov never saw as it sailed past his glove, giving the Caps a 1-0 lead.

Wolski and Ribeiro teamed up again four minutes later.  The play started when Karl Alzner chipped the puck off the glass in the Caps’ end and into the neutral zone.  Ribeiro picked it up and started up the right side.  As he approached the blue line he sent the puck to Wolski cutting into the middle.  Wolski picked it up and split the Islander defense, finding himself alone on Nabokov.  He deked Nabokov to the ice and roofed a forehand to put the Caps up 2-0 at the 14:20 mark.

The Islanders might have made it out of the first period with no further damage, but a self-inflicted wound did them in for a third Caps goal just before the intermission.  A bad dump-in coupled with a bad line change left the Caps with a 2-on-none break in the final minute.  Brooks Laich converted a Mike Ribeiro pass for a lay-up with just 27 seconds left in the period, and the Caps had a 3-0 lead at the first intermission.

If the Islanders had designs on making this a competitive game in the second period, those thoughts were smashed in the second minute.  An Alex Ovechkin wrist shot hit Nabokov on the left shoulder and seemed to stun the goalie.  While Nabokov struggled to recover, Nicklas Backstrom swooped in and snapped the puck into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the season to give the Caps a 4-0 advantage.

The teams traded power play opportunities later in the period, but neither side could convert their chance.  The teams skated off at the end of 40 minutes with the Caps still holding their 4-0 lead.

The third period took on the look of a game in which both teams were looking to get it over with.  The Caps managed 11 shots on Nabokov, but none could have been considered the product of a good scoring opportunity.  The only suspense left was to see if Michal Neuvirth would record his first shutout of the season.  The Islanders ended the suspense late in the period when a Kyle Okposo shot from the right wing circle struck Caps defenseman Mike Green in the thigh and was redirected past Neuvirth’s glove.  It would be the last of the scoring for the evening, the Caps coming away with a 4-1 win.

Capitals 4 – Islanders 1