Capitals Drop Game 1, Allow Four Unanswered by the Isles


Washington Capitals Braden Holtby 4.21 / .852
New York Islanders Semyon Varlamov 2.00 / .923

TLDR: Capitals drop Game 1 in regulation, after allowing four consecutive Isles goals, including a SHG. Game 2 is scheduled for Friday at 8:00pm EST.

After being delayed due to the rescheduled Carolina/Boston game, puck drop finally came for the Caps and Isles shortly after 4pm. In Game 1 of the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Washington Capitals lost to the New York Islanders, 4-2, after allowing four unanswered goals, including one short-handed goal.

After missing all three round-robin matches, John Carlson was determined to be a game-time decision for today’s game. Thankfully (?) the veteran blue-liner finally returned to the line-up. But Lars Eller was determined unavailable for Game 1, so Travis Boyd remained in the 3C position. Many hoped that Alex Ovechkin, after having not scored once in the round-robin games, would score at least once. Just beyond the two-minute mark, Anders Lee body-slammed Nicklas Backstrom and shortly thereafter, Carlson and Lee dropped the mitts. Washington ended up with the power-play opportunity as Lee and Carlson received matching roughing minors but Lee was also assessed a two-minute minor for interference. With 11 seconds remaining on the man-advantage, and before the game was even five-minutes old, Tom Wilson and Casey Cizikas went off for matching roughing minors. Matt Martin tried to get involved with Alex Ovechkin after a whistle, and ended up in the penalty box for roughing. The Capitals unfortunately were unable to convert on their second power-play of the period. But Washington got a third consecutive power play as soon as the second expired, with Scott Mayfield going off for tripping. The man-advantage was cut short as Tom Wilson went off for interference. Play resumed as 4-on-4 for 39 seconds, and the Caps successfully killed off the abbreviated Isles power play. With 2:47 remaining, Tom Wilson and Anders Lee did drop the mitts, and both received five-minute fighting majors. Brock Nelson ripped it just wide of Braden Holtby with just about one minute remaining, but the score stayed 0-0 heading into the second. Washington outshot the Isles 7-2 in the first.

Nicklas Backstrom did not return to the Caps’ bench at the start of the second period, which spells B-A-D-N-E-W-S for Washington. The suspected injury was likely a blind-sided hit late in the first. A bad turnover left Braden Holtby in a tough spot to make an extremely important save, and Matt Martin then was called for an interference penalty. Finally, on Washington’s fourth power play of the afternoon, TJ Oshie slammed the puck home to give the Caps a 1-0 lead.

With 11:18 remaining, Garnet Hathaway was called for interference. Then, Jordan Eberle went off for hooking as a scramble ensued on-top of Holtby, so play resumed as 4-on-4, and then the Caps got an abbreviated power play themselves. Washington scored another power play goal after hacking and subsequent whacking pushed the puck behind goaltender Semyon Varlamov.

Moments later, Richard Panik went off for boarding and the Isles had an opportunity to cut into Washington’s lead, but were unsuccessful. At the 16:04 mark, the Islanders were assessed a too-many-men penalty but the Capitals didn’t convert that time. However, the Isles nearly scored shorthanded, but TJ Oshie kept the puck out of the net. Unfortunately, with 63 seconds left in the period, Jordan Eberle cut the Caps’ lead in half.

Only 51 seconds into the third period, Anders Lee tied the game 2-2 after a failed clearing attempt by the Caps. Washington began to unravel after the Isles second goal, and coverage in front of Holtby started to suffer as a result. The Caps got their 7th power play of the evening with Leo Komarov going off for high-sticking. Josh Bailey scored short-handed after a misplay by Holtby, giving the Islanders their first lead of the game, 3-2. With 8:05 left, Anthony Beauvillier made it 4-2, digging the Caps a suffocating hole. With just about 2:30 remaining, Todd Reirden elected to vacate the Caps goal for the extra skater. Unfortunately, a late push by Washington wasn’t enough to salvage Game 1. The Capitals played with very little urgency for the majority of the third, and it showed. Tom Wilson went off for holding with under a minute remaining, sealing the loss for Washington.

Braden Holtby ended his night allowing 4 goals on 27 shots, and Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped 24 of 26 shots.

TXHT’s Three Takeaways of the Game

  1. If Backstrom is indeed injured, the importance of Eller’s return cannot be understated.
  2. Although its great that the Capitals’ power play scored twice, we also need to score at even-strength.
  3. Braden Holtby allowing soft goals kill momentum quicker than bad penalties.

Below is the remaining schedule vs. NYI:

Game 2: Fri. at 8pm

Game 3: Sun. Aug. 16 at 12pm

Game 4: Tues. Aug. 18 at 8pm

Game 5: Thurs. Aug. 20 TBD

Game 6: Sat. Aug. 22 TBD

Game 7: Sun. Aug. 23 TBD

NHL News: NHL governing bodies will be adjusting schedules within the next 24-48 hours to allow for six (6) hours in between games to allow for multiple overtime periods. Currently, there is only a 4-4.5 hour block of time between games.

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