Tuesday, December 13, 2016

A TWO-Point Night -- Game 28: Washington Capitals 4 - New York Islanders 2

The Washington Capitals made it five wins in a row on Tuesday night with a 4-2 victory over the New York Islanders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  The win allowed the Caps to vault all the way to third place in the Metropolitan Division, pending the results of the Columbus/Edmonton game in Edmonton.  The win also matched the Caps’ longest winning streak of the season.

It was the Islanders opening the scoring in the first period, taking advantage of an aborted line change by John Carlson to allow Brock Nelson to skate into the Caps’ zone and unleash a shot that appeared to ever so slightly tick off Carlson’s stick and sail over goalie Braden Holtby’s left shoulder to make it 1-0, 9:32 into the contest.

The Islanders carried that lead into the first intermission, but the Caps struck early in the second.   Lars Eller outfought Johnny Boychuk to a loose puck at the New York blue line and skated in down the left side.  Brett Connolly charged down the middle to the net, calling for the puck.  Eller put it on his tape, and Connolly did the rest, beating goalie Jaroslav Halak at the 2:09 mark to tie the game.

Washington took the lead five minutes later when Justin Williams was credited with a goal from a pile-up in front of Halak (goal originally credited to Jakub Vrana).  A shot by Evgeny Kuznetsov from in close slithered through a clot of bodies and somehow made it to Vrana, who guided the puck to the net where it appeared to hit a body part of Williams for the goal 7:37 into the period.

New York tied the game mid-way through the period when the caught the Caps chasing things in their own end.  A loose puck pinballed its way out to Nick Leddy at the left point, and his shot was redirected by Nikolai Kulemin through the pads of Holtby to make it 2-2, 10:41 into the period.

The third period belonged to the Caps.  More precisely, it was The Matt Niskanen Show.  Niskanen gave the Caps the lead for good in the second minute of the period when, with the Islanders overloading the left side of the ice, Dmitry Orlov took a feed at the left point and relayed it to Niskanen on the right side.  Niskanen stepped up to the top of the faceoff circle and ripped a shot that clanged off the post and behind Halak to make it 3-2 just 1:34 into the third period.

Niskanen closed the scoring late in the period on a power play.  It was a set play with crisp passing, John Carlson at the right point sending the puck down the wall to Kuznetsov who sent it cross-ice to Niskanen at the left point.  Niskanen’s shot handcuffed Halak and lieaked through on the left side to trickle over the goal line at the 18:02 mark, and the Caps had their fifth straight win, 4-2.

Other stuff…

-- Matt Niskanen’s two goals marked the first time a Capital defenseman scored two goals in a game since John Carlson did it in a 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on December 2, 2014.  It was the first two-goal game for Niskanen since March 4, 2014 when he was skating for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

-- Nine different skaters had points for the Caps.  Niskanen, Jakub Vrana (two assists), and Evgeny Kuznetsov (two assists) had multi-point games.

-- Justin Williams had two goals on 52 shots over his first 24 games.  With his goal tonight, he has four goals on seven shots in his last four games.

-- Jay Beagle and Nate Schmidt were the only Caps not recording a shot on goal.  Niskanen led the team with six shots on goal.

-- The Caps held a 67-52 overall shot attempt advantage and 56-44 advantage (56.0 percent) at 5-on-5.  T.J. Oshie had an amazing Corsi-for/on ice differential, plus-13 in his 19 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time (numbers from Corsica.hockey).  Three other Caps were at plus-10: Dmitry Orlov, Nate Schmidt, and Marcus Johansson.

-- The Caps were 2-for-3 on the power play, giving them power play goals in five of their last six games, over which they are 7-for-21 (33.3 percent).

-- Washington held the Islanders without a shot on goal for the first 10:37 of the second period, part of a stretch in which the Islanders went 11:22 without a shot on goal going back to late in the first period.

-- With 26 saves on 28 shots faced, Braden Holtby is now 4-0-1, 1.56, .946, with one shutout in his last five appearances.

-- Jay Beagle was the only Capitals taking more than one faceoff who finished the night over 50 percent (13-for-19/68.4 percent).

-- Brett Connolly scored a goal on the only shot on goal he recorded.  That’s the second time this season he did that, scoring on his only shot on goal in a 3-1 win over the Csalgsary Flames on October 20th.

In the end…

It was a solid road game for the Caps, who took a clinical approach to deconstructing the Islanders and dominating possession.  They got balanced scoring, displayed a solid defense, limited the Islanders in terms of both even strength and power play chances (two power plays, both of which where extinguished).  Now, having evened the score against the Islanders after the Isles shut out the Caps to open December, the Caps will get a chance to even another score when they visit Carolina on Thursday, looking to get even for a 5-1 licking the Hurricanes put on the Caps back on November 15th.  All it "The Revenge Tour," and the Caps are 1-for-1 so far in one of their better-played games of the season.