|GAA / SV%|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||.871|
|New York Islanders||Semyon Varlamov||.917|
TLDR: Ovechkin pots two, but Capitals drop second straight game, fall 0-2 to the Isles in a 5-2 loss. Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday August 16th at 12:00pm EST.
After dropping Game 1 versus the New York Islanders and losing Nicklas Backstrom to a blindsided hit from Anders Lee, Todd Reirden and the Caps were hoping to rebound in Game 2. Washington has scored just four goals at even-strength throughout these playoffs thus far, including the round robin games. For a team that led the league in goals-for, this shouldn’t be as glaring of a problem like it is. The Islanders are 67-5-7 when scoring three or more goals, so the Capitals will need to restrain the Isles offensive firepower and ignite their own.
As expected, Nicklas Backstrom did not dress for Game 2, and as a result, Lars Eller moved up to the 2C position. This isn’t the first time Eller has had to fill-in on the 2nd line; remember the 2018 Cup run? Braden Holtby got the start for the Caps, after taking blame for the Game 1 loss. Holtby is 8-5 in playoff games following a loss, so many fans expected a rebound for him as well. Just 56 seconds into the first period, Alex Ovechkin FINALLY scored in the post-season with a close-quarters backhand shot.
In 52 games following playoff losses, Ovi now has 55 points, including 24 goals and 31 assists. Matching minor penalties were doled out between Jakub Vrana and Anthony Beauvillier for slashing and cross-checking, so play resumed as 4-on-4 for two minutes. With 33 seconds left in the 4-on-4, Washington was called for too-many-men so the Isles played with the man-advantage. The Capitals 100% penalty kill successfully kept the score 1-0. Another physical game featured two massive hits early on, one on Tom Wilson and another on Jakub Vrana within 40 seconds of each other. The Isles began to dominate play in the Caps’ defensive zone as the play clock dwindled down to the final six or so minutes of the first. With 4:40 remaining, Tom Wilson was sent off for elbowing, but again, Washington killed off the penalty. For a second consecutive game, the Capitals led heading into the second period.
With no carry-over penalties from the first, play continued as 5-on-5 even strength at the start of the second. Nic Dowd was sent off to the penalty box for high-sticking to give the Isles their third power play of the evening. At the 2:56 mark, Nick Leddy tied the game 1-1 on the man-advantage, spoiling the Caps’ perfect PK record. Not long after, Matt Martin made it 2-1 Islanders to give them, again, their first lead of the game. If it feels like you’re experiencing déjà vu, you’re right, you are. 1:38 after Martin’s lead goal, Alex Ovechkin scored his 2nd of the evening to tie it all up, but seconds later a breakaway by Brock Nelson ended with the puck behind Holtby to re-instate the Isles lead.
At the 7:15 mark, Garnet Hathaway was assessed a four-minute double minor (boarding, unsportsmanlike conduct) and Matt Martin a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct, giving the Isles another power play. Washington killed it off, though. As hoped, Jakub Vrana was replaced by Richard Panik on the 2nd line with Eller and Oshie after his turnover led to Nelson’s breakaway. The Caps were assessed a second too-many-men penalty with 6:18 remaining in the period. Fortunately, they killed off that penalty, but the Islanders led 3-2 leading up to the 3rd period.
Per Mike Vogel, the Caps registered just seven shots on net in the second period. One, “a 59-footer from Carlson in 1st minute, a 55-footer from Panik in last minute”. Ovechkin’s 2nd goal was sandwiched in between and Alex registered five shots, with “only two of them inside of 30 feet, one of them a goal”. After a temporary substitution, Vrana returned to the 2nd line to start the final period. The Capitals received their very first power play of the game as Ryan Pulock went off for tripping at the 3:15 mark but didn’t convert. Eller was seen hobbling off the ice after a play in the Isles zone, but quickly returned to play. The Caps received a second power play as Evgeny Kuznetsov drew a tripping penalty against Andy Greene with 11:18 remaining but were unsuccessful as they tried to tie the game. With three minutes remaining, Cal Clutterbuck scored the insurance goal after extended zone time in the Caps’ defensive zone. As expected, Reirden elected to pull Holtby for the extra-skater, but Anders Lee scored an empty-net goal making it 5-2. Washington was incapable of making a comeback like they had so many times before during the regular season. With the loss, the Capitals fell zero games to two. Many will refer to the 2018 Cup run when Washington fell 0-2 to Columbus and then rallied back to win the cup, but this is not the same team. The 2018 Capitals played hard and fought, but lost. This team doesn’t care.
TXHT’s Three Takeaways of the Game
- Well, what do you think?
- Perhaps its time to try Vitek Vanecek in goal? Perhaps? Just for fun?
- Alex Ovechkin and TJ Oshie are the only ones playing like they care.
Below is the remaining schedule vs. NYI:
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