The Washington Capitals wrap up their three-game set with the New York Islanders on Tuesday night with a chance to sweep the series and put a dagger into any hopes the Isles might have for winning the East Division. And, they will have that chance at home, playing in front of their fans (albeit with limited attendance) for the first time this season. So, where are we as the series wraps up, and the new week begins?
- It has been a while since the Caps woke up looking up at a team ahead of them in the East Division standings, but that was the case on Monday morning, when the Pittsburgh Penguins occupied the top spot in the East. The Caps had occupied the top spot in the East every day since April 8th, when the Islanders held the top spot.
- The Islanders have six wins in regulation on the road this season. None of them have come against a team currently eligible for the postseason (two wins against the New York Rangers, two against the Buffalo Sabres, and two against the New Jersey Devils).
- The Caps might want to tighten up their defense on home ice. They have allowed three or more goals in five of their last seven games at Capital One Arena, posting a 4-3-0 record. And only one of those seven games was played against a current playoff-eligible team (4-2 loss to Boston on April 8th).
- When the Caps beat the Islanders, 6-3, on Saturday night, it was their 14th game this season with five or more goals scored. That is tied for second-most in the league (with Pittsburgh), trailing only the Vegas Golden Knights (17).
- The Caps have had considerable support on offense against the Islanders so far this season. Among the top-ten point getters through seven games are: Justin Schultz (five points in five games), Daniel Sprong (five points in six games), Brenden Dillon (four points in seven games), Garnet Hathaway (three points in seven games), and Conor Sheary (three points in seven games).
- Sprong and John Carlson are tied for the team lead in goals against the Islanders this season (four apiece). Carlson also leads in power play goals with two.
- Nicklas Backstrom has points on each of the six power play goals scored by the Caps against the Islanders so far this season (1-5-6).
- Ilya Samsonov has had an odd season in goal against the Islanders. He is 3-1-0, 2.63, .896, with one shutout in four appearances, but he has been either very, very good, or very, very not so good. He has had two games with save percentages of .955 or higher and two others with save percentages of .875 or lower.
- Of the 25 skaters to dress for the Caps against the Islanders this season, 22 have at least one point. The three without one are Jonas Siegenthaler (since departed), Michael Raffl (just got here), and Dmitry Orlov (0-0-0 in five games).
- When the Caps shutout the Islanders, 1-0 in a Gimmick, last Thursday, it marked the first Capitals shutout of the Islanders in more than 18 years, not since February 7, 2003, when the Caps beat the Isles, 3-0, in Washington. It was the first shutout of the Islanders on Long Island since April 13, 1998, when the Caps beat New York, 2-0. Olaf Kolzig authored both shutouts.
- While the Caps have the third-best road record in the league, by points percentage, they could stand to improve their record at home, where their 14-6-2 record is 12th in the league in points earned and ninth in points percentage (.682). Starting with Tuesday’s game against the Islanders, six of the Caps’ last eight games are on home ice.
In the end…
The Caps are in chase mode for the moment, one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins with a game in hand. Both teams play on Tuesday night, the Caps ending their season series against the Islanders and the Penguins ending their season series against the Boston Bruins. With the Islanders fading a bit in the stretch, and the Bruins six points behind the Caps, the East seems to be coming down to a two-team race for the top spot. But to keep the pressure on Pittsburgh, the Caps need to make it three-for-three against as annoying a team to play as there is in the league.
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