Washington Capitals (36-14-5) vs New York Islanders (31-16-6)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Ilya Samsonov||16-3-1||2.21 / .923 / 1|
|New York Islanders||Thomas Greiss||15-7-2||2.53 / .920 / 0|
The Washington Capitals will round-out their four-game home stand by taking on another division rival… yes, again… the New York Islanders. The Capitals defeated the Islanders 6-4 back on January 18th, but New York is just slightly better against Metro teams than Washington. Both teams have struggled as of late, with the Capitals being 6-4-0 and the Islanders, 4-4-2 in their last 10 games.
The Washington Capitals were stomped by the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday, in a pitiful 7-2 loss. On the eve that many Caps’ fans thought Alex Ovechkin would score his 699th and 700th career goal, instead, fans witnessed some of the worst hockey Washington has played in quite some time. It was former Capital Matt Niskanen’s first time playing in Capital One Arena as a member of the Flyers team, and a video tribute was shown, which brought tears to the eyes of some in the arena. The Flyers received the first power play of the night, just beyond the 15-minute mark of the first, and Sean Couturier stunted Washingtons’ top-tier penalty kill to give his team an early 1-0 lead with the man-advantage. Shortly thereafter, T.J. Oshie tied the game with his 20th goal of the season as Brian Elliott was called for tripping. The first period was the best of the game for the Capitals. The middle frame is where everything fell apart. In four minutes and 30 seconds, the Flyers put up three goals, including Michael Raffl’s 6th of the season (2:45), Couturier’s 15th (and 2nd of the game) just 14 seconds later, and James van Riemsdyks’ 15th as well (4:30). The Capitals received three power plays in the second, and the Flyers, one of their own, but neither team converted. Although Philadelphia led 4-1 heading into the third period, the game was still within reach for Washington, and Caps’ faithful stuck around to hopefully witness another comeback. As predicted, after receiving four power play opportunities, the tides began to turn for Washington as the Flyers received four consecutive power plays, including a two-man advantage. Just short of the three-minute mark of the final frame, Nicolas Aube-Kubel improved the Flyers’ lead by a score of 5-1. Less than two minutes later, Travis Konecny made is 6-1, and the mass exodus of Caps fans began. Claude Giroux sealed the win for Philadelphia as he made it 7-1 Flyers with his 14th of the season on the power play (Hathaway, cross-checking). Finally, after the 7th goal was scored, Braden Holtby was lifted, and Ilya Samsonov, again, was entrusted with goal-tending duties for the remainder of the period. Many, including myself, questioned why it took seven goals against to finally turn over the net to Samsonov, but on the bright side, he ended the night with a perfect 1.000 save percentage. Evgeny Kuznetsov gave Washington one more goal at the 12:17 mark, as he potted his 19th of the season. After being shut-out by the Devils 5-0 just a few nights ago, this was certainly a memorable night for goaltender Brian Elliott. Elliott made 25 saves on 27 shots, and earned himself his fifth win in seven starts, and his 14th of the season. Braden Holtby, on the other hand, ended his night with an abysmal save percentage of .720 after allowing seven goals on 25 shots. The entire roster, sans four players, ended the game with negative +/- ratings; TJ Oshie (+1), Nicklas Backstrom (0), Alex Ovechkin (0), and Carl Hagelin (0). Ilya Samsonov is expected to start for the Capitals versus the Islanders.
The New York Islanders dropped their last game, also on Saturday, but the score was just 3-1, as they conceded to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Islanders have just four wins in their last 10 games. The first period was score-less and lacked even a single penalty. However, just 14 seconds into the second period, Brayden Point gave Tampa a 1-0 lead with his 20th of the season. Point is currently riding a six-game point streak himself and has seven power play goals on the year. The Lightning received a late second period power play, but the Islanders’ 20th ranked penalty kill kept Tampa’s 5th ranked power play off the scoreboard (ESPN). At the 6:25 mark of the third period, Carter Verhaeghe scored his 5th of the season, making it 2-0, Tampa. With Nikita Kucherov in the penalty box for holding, Derick Brassard scored the single Isles goal of the evening, breaching the 10-goal mark for Brassard. The Islanders were 1 for 1 one the power play versus Tampa, though they have just 23 power play goals on the year, which is just one goal better than Anaheim (21) (ESPN). Barry Trotz, in typical Barry Trotz fashion, elected to pull goaltender Semyon Varlamov for the extra skater in hopes of tying the game later, but Steven Stamkos potted an empty-net goal with 62 seconds left. Although unchallenged, the goal would mark Stamkos’ 26th of the season. Semyon Varlamov, who played three seasons with the Capitals, ended his night with 27 saves on 29 shots and a .931 save percentage. Thomas Greiss, however, who has points in each of his last five starts, will start between the pipes for the Islanders.
The New York Islanders are still without Cal Clutterbuck (DL, wrist), and Adam Pelech (DL, achilles). Ryan Pulock is listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. Radko Gudas will be the healthy scratch for the Capitals, and defenseman Nick Jensen will be moved down on the third defensive pair with Jonas Siegenthaler. Martin Fehervary will be paired with Dmitry Orlov.
Coverage of the game begins at 6:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 7:00pm.
ESPN. (2020). 2019-20 NHL Hockey Stats and League Leaders – Special Teams. Retrieved from http://proxy.espn.com/nhl/statistics/team?stat=special-teams&sort=powerPlayGoals.
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.