Not Over Yet; Caps Veterans help to avoid Elimination in Critical Game 4

 GoaltenderRecordGAA / SV%
Washington CapitalsBraden Holtby2-4-1.923 / .2.03
New York IslandersSemyon Varlamov6-2-0.897 / 3.10

TLDR: Ovechkin scores two, Kuznetsov one to avoid elimination in a do-or-die Game 4. Game 5 is scheduled for Thursday August 20, time TBD.

Tonight’s match was an absolute do-or-die, win-or-go-home game for the Washington Capitals. For the first time in franchise history, the Capitals could be swept in the first round. Conversely, for the 5th time in NHL history, Washington could win Game 4 and bounce-back to win the series.

Heading into tonight’s match, Braden Holtby was 8-6-0 with 1.82 goals against and a .924 save percentage in elimination games. This could have been Holtby’s final game in a Capitals uniform, and it also could have been Todd Reirden’s last game as the Caps head-coach. Most importantly though, Braden has been THE goaltender of the decade, the best goalie this franchise has ever had, the goalie who made ‘The Save’ and won THE Stanley Cup after winning a Vezina Trophy and a Calder Cup in the AHL with the Hershey Bears. The Caps’ fanbase will never forget what Braden had done for this organization, including being the #1 goalie for 10 years. Nicklas Backstrom, who was a game-time decision, did not play. Ilya Kovalchuk was moved up to the second line, and TJ Oshie demoted to the 3RW spot. I agree that Kovy needs to play with highly-skilled line-mates, but in NO WAY does that mean Oshie needed demoting. Jonas Siegenthaler was re-inserted into the lineup on the 3rd defensive pair, and Jakub Vrana maintained his spot on the 2LW position.

Just 58 seconds into the first period, Brenden Dillion was called for a very obvious tripping penalty, giving the Isles their first power play of the evening. Although Washington’s penalty kill has operated at 95.5% through three round robin games and three first round games, the Caps are still taking too many penalties. The Isles were 1-for-14 on the man-advantage heading into tonight’s game, and the Caps made it 1-for-15 after killing off the early PP. Three minutes and 50 seconds in, Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored his 4th of the post-season giving the Islanders a 1-0 lead. At the 5:58 mark, shot attempts were 16-1, Islanders. Mat Barzal made it 2-0 at the 9:16 mark of the first with his 3rd of the season. With 3:53 remaining Garnet Hathaway and Mat Barzal were assessed matching minors. Tom Wilson was fouled so play resumed as 4-on-4. The Capitals received their first power play as Devon Toews went off for hooking, but did not convert. Then, Alex Ovechkin was called for roughing. So, with the Islanders leading 2-0, New York would start the 2nd period with a power play.

With the Islanders on the power play, Mat Barzal was called for holding, so play would continue as 4-on-4. Then, Washington took on the man-advantage for just under a minute and thirty seconds. The Islanders were called for delay of game, and Washington played 5-on-3 for a little over a minute. With 22 seconds remaining for the Capitals 5-on-3, TJ Oshie was called for hooking, but Evgeny Kuznetsov cut into the Isles lead at the 3:35 mark with his 3rd of the post-season.

Barzal was then called for holding at the 3:46 mark, so Washington aimed to tie it all up. Alex Ovechkin did exactly that just two minutes and six seconds after Kuznetsov’s goal, to tie the game 2-2.

With 9:54 remaining in the 2nd, Tom Wilson was called for boarding, and Radko Gudas and Matt Martin participated in some extra-curriculars after the whistle. Washington has averaged five penalties per game across the post-season thus far. Fortunately, the Caps penalty kill continued to neutralize the Islanders power play. With 3:20 remaining, the Capitals received another power play as JG Pageau was sent to the penalty box, but did not convert.

The third period began with the two teams tied at 2-2, but Alex Ovechkin made it 3-2 at the 3:40 mark.

The Islanders earned another power play at the 6:58 mark of the third period as Brenden Dillon was called for high-sticking, Washington successfully killed off that penalty to keep the score 3-2. With 3:20 remaining, the Capitals led, but Semyon Varlamov awaited the call to vacate the net. With one minute and twenty seconds remaining, Barry Trotz called Varly out for the extra attacker. Somehow, the Capitals closed out the game with a one-goal lead to stave off elimination.

TXHT’s Three Takeaways of the Game

  1. Braden Holtby earned at least one more game with the Capitals.
  2. Penalty kill is 100.
  3. So… you’re telling me… there’s a chance?

Below is the remaining schedule vs. NYI:

Game 5: Thurs. Aug. 20 TBD

Game 6: Sat. Aug. 22 TBD

Game 7: Sun. Aug. 23 TBD

One thought on “Not Over Yet; Caps Veterans help to avoid Elimination in Critical Game 4

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