Washington Capitals (32-11-5) vs New York Islanders (28-14-4)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||18-9-5||3.02 / .899 / 0|
|New York Islanders||Semyon Varlamov||15-6-4||2.48 / .919 / 0|
The Washington Capitals are set to take on the New York Islanders for another Saturday Matinee, this time at Nassau Coliseum. Back on Thursday, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his 25th career hat-trick and is just one goal away from tying Mario Lemieux on the all-time goal scoring list. The Islanders defeated the Caps 4-3 back on New Years Eve, but New York is just 5-4-1 in their last 10.
On Thursday, the Washington Capitals defeated the New Jersey Devils, by a score of 5-2, less than seven days since the last time these two teams met. An early goal from Carl Hagelin, who had just one goal heading into tonight, was eventually called back for being off-sides. Luckily, Washington did not allow the Devils to score despite the momentum gained from the overturned goal. The Devils received the first power play of the night, but did not convert (Wilson, interference). Washington received back-to-back power plays, and it was the second of the period that ended up initiating a Caps’ lead. It took just seconds for Alex Ovechkin to strike, marking his 29th goal of the season. With less than 60 seconds remaining, Ovechkin tallied his 2nd of the night, and 30th of the season. That 2nd goal came at the 19:08 mark, and the primary assist came from none other than Nicklas Backstrom. With his 30th goal, Ovechkin marked his 15th straight season with 30+ goals. Louis Domingue, who had started for the Devils, did not return for the second period after suffering an injury in the first. Cory Schneider would be called upon to finish the match for the Devils. 16 seconds into the second period, Carl Hagelin scored his 2nd of the season, and this time it counted. However, just 52 seconds later, Wayne Simmonds got the Devils on the board, spoiling Ilya Samsonov’s shutout hopes. Late in the second, the Capitals were gifted with an abbreviated four-minute power play, but were unable to make it count (Vantanen, high-sticking). The third period saw the 5th short-handed goal Washington has allowed in the last 11 games. With Will Butcher in the penalty box, Blake Coleman brought the Devils within one. Just about three minutes later, Jakub Vrana, on the follow-up, marked his 21st goal of the season. The Capitals were challenged with killing off another Devils power play. Good for Washington, the Caps’ penalty killers were successful. Shortly thereafter, the Capitals were close to being called for high-sticking again, but upon review, the puck, not Michal Kempny’s stick, had actually hit Nikita Gusev in the face. On the 14th anniversary of his impossible, yet successful goal against the Phoenix Coyotes, Alex Ovechkin completed his 25th career hat-trick, and his 140th multi-goal game, with his 31st goal at the 15:42 mark of the third.
Ilya Samsonov won his 9th straight start, and ended the night with an impressive .941 save percentage, after making 32 saves on 34 shots. Although Braden Holtby is slated to start versus the Islanders, it is not completely out of the question to see Samsonov between the pipes for a third consecutive start.
The New York Islanders lost to the New York Rangers, 3-2, also on Thursday. Though Josh Bailey got the Islanders on the board first, a power play goal from Mika Zibanejad in the second, and another from Tony DeAngelo in the third gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. The Rangers’ 17th ranked penalty kill kept the Islanders from converting on even one of their four power plays throughout the duration of the game. Anthony Beauvillier tied the game at two goals each at the 12:40 mark of the final frame. Derick Brassard was called for cross-checking with less than 60 seconds remaining in the game. Chris Kreider potted the puck past goaltender Semyon Varlamov for his 16th of the season, and eventual game-winning goal for the Rangers. Despite a spectacular showing last season, the Islanders have struggled to find common ground this year. Back in October, Barry Trotz’s team set off on a 16-game point streak, in which they won 14 of 16 games. The two losses during that span came in overtime. Since, they have been able to string together three consecutive wins, once (12/9 – 12/14). They now rank among the bottom 16 teams for all offensive stats. They do, however, allow the fifth fewest goals against (2.62). Varlamov is expected to start versus the Capitals.
The Islanders are still without Cal Clutterbuck (wrist), and Adam Pelech (achilles). Washington is playing with a fully healthy roster. As punishment for electing to skip the All-Star Game to preserve his health, Alex Ovechkin will serve his one-game suspension against the Montreal Canadiens.
Coverage of the game begins at 12:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 12:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 1:00pm.
HockeyReference. (2020). Alex Ovechkin Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/o/ovechal01.html.
TheScore. (2020). New York Islanders News and Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/7.
TheScore. (2020). Washington Capitals News and Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.