Tuesday, January 26, 2021

A TWO-Point Night: Washington Capitals -- Game 7: Capitals 3 - Islanders 2

The Washington Capitals started the middle two-game set of their six game homestand when they hosted the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.  In a hard fought game that seemed sure to be headed for another overtime, the Caps got a late goal to break the tie and beat the Isles, 3-2, for their seventh straight game with points earned.



First Period

The Islanders had the first shot on goal, but the Caps answered with the next seven shots in less than a minute early in the period.  The teams settled down after that, until the Isles took the game’s first penalty, Matt Martin going off for tripping at 10:12 of the period.

John Carlson converted the chance for the Caps.  Nicklas Backstrom started the play by looking over the ice for a possible shot or pass into the middle, but he fed the puck out to Justin Schultz for a one-timer that handcuffed goalie Semyon Varlamov.  The puck popped up and to Varlamov’s right, where Carlson was waiting, and the defenseman wasted no time snapping the puck behind Varlamov to give the Caps the lead at 11:06.

New York tied the game at 15:33, Noah Dobson sneaking a shot from the right point that was deflected by Anders Lee and then by Caps defenseman Brenden Dillon before it eluded goalie Vitek Vanecek, Lee credited with the goal.  That would do it for the scoring in the first frame.

-- Washington out-shot the Isles, 17-11, in the period and out-attempted the visitors, 31-15.

-- Twelve of 18 skaters had shots on goal in the period, five of them with two apiece (Schultz, Panik, van Riemsdyk, Sheary, and Carlson).

-- Sheary led the Caps in credited hits (two).

-- Nicklas Backstrom was five-for-seven on faceoffs in the period (71.4 percent).

Second Period

The noteworthy moment in the early going of the period was when Nicklas Backstrom took a puck off the stick of Adam Pelech in the left cheek at center ice.  Backstrom immediately headed to the locker room for attention.

New York got their first power play of the game when Carl Hagelin was whistled for boarding, 7:19 into the period.  The Isles failed to convert on the power play, but they did take the lead at 10:01 of the period when Zdeno Chara thought it would be a good idea to send the puck up the middle and managed only to put the puck on the stick of Mathew Barzal, who took advantage and beat Vanecek to make it a 2-1 game.

The Isles were given another man advantage 13:24 into the period when Nicklas Backstrom was sent of for interference.  Washington managed to kill off the penalty with no damage suffered.

Daniel Sprong got the Caps even with his first goal for the club, taking a feed from Daniel Carr in close quarters and snapping a shot from between the circles over the right shoulder of Varlamov, tying the game at 2-2, 17:21 into the period.

New York got its third power play of the period in the last minute, Lars Eller going off for tripping with 57 seconds left in the frame.  The Caps kept the Isles off the board for the second period portion of the penalty, 1:03 carrying over into the third period, the teams going off tied, 2-2.

-- New York out-shot the Caps, 14-9, in the second period and out-attempted them, 25-22.

-- John Carlson led the club with three shots on goal through two periods and led the club with seven shot attempts.

-- The Caps were not credited with a takeaway through 40 minutes.

Third Period

The Caps skated off the remainder of the Islander power play to start the period, and the they had the period’s best scoring chance with a three-on-two advantage, but T.J. Oshie was not able to convert the opportunity.

Neither team mounted much of an attack through the middle of the period, but the Caps were given an opportunity when Leo Komarov was sent off on a five-minute major for boarding Lars Eller, who made his way delicately down the tunnel for attention.  Washington recorded one shot on goal in the five-minute power play, not finding the back of the net, and the teams continued tied.

The Caps finally found a hole in Varlamov in the last minute.  Garnet Hathaway and Justin Schultz worked a give and go at the offensive blue line, Hathaway feeding Schultz, who fired a shot low to the far side that beat Varlamov past the right pad with 26.4 seconds left.

The Caps skated off the last seconds and made it seven straight games with a point with the 3-2 win.

Other stuff…

-- The seventh straight game with a point is the longest such streak for the Caps to open a season since they went 7-0-0 to open the 2011-2012 season.

-- The Caps out-shot the Islanders, 36-34, and out-attempted them overall, 72-58.

-- Brenden Dillon and Garnet Hathaway were the only Caps not to record a shot on goal; John Carlson led the team with five.

-- Carlson led the team with nine shot attempts.

-- The Caps were credited with no takeaways for the game.

-- The Caps rolled lines. T.J. Oshie led the forwards with only 18:40 of ice time.  A result made necessary with the Caps losing centers Nicklas Backstrom and Lars Eller to injury for stretches in this game.

-- With 32 saves on 34 shots faced, Vitek Vanecek is 77 for 82 in his last two games (.939 save percentage).

-- The Caps got multi-point nights from two defensemen – Jahn Carlson and Justin Schultz were each 1-1-2.

-- Daniel Carr, getting his first action as a Capital – 0-1-1, one shot on goal, two shot attempts, two blocked shots, plus-1 rating.

-- This was the Caps’ third win of the season when scoring three or fewer goals (not counting Gimmicks).  Last season they did not get their third win when scoring three or fewer goals until Game 20.

In the end…

Was this a character-building win?  It might be too early to tell, but it sure felt like one.  The Caps had 92 goals from last season and their starting goalie on the bench.  They lost two more centers for chunks of this game.  And still they prevailed.  If you want to pick nits about this game, feel free, but these guys deserve credit to grinding a tough win out against a team against whom such wins are hard to come by.