|Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV%|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||2-4-1||.923 / 2.03|
|New York Islanders||Semyon Varlamov||6-2-0||.897 / 3.10|
Raise your hand if you thought we’d see a Game 5. It’s okay, you can be honest. In a twist of fate, the Washington Capitals avoided elimination on Tuesday night and thus avoided being swept in the First Round for the first time in franchise history. Braden Holtby and the Capitals will live to play another day (at least a Game 5, on Thursday). Although the Caps still have to win three consecutive games to avoid going home, at least they weren’t the first team to be eliminated (*cough* Chicago *cough*).
Washington stuck with Braden Holtby in net, as it quite possibly could have been his last game in a Capitals uniform. Holtby, heading into the do-or-die Game 4, was 8-6-0 with 1.82 goals against and a .924 save percentage (in elimination games). Nicklas Backstrom, who was a game-time decision, did not play. Ilya Kovalchuk was promoted to the 2RW spot, and TJ Oshie demoted to the 3RW to start the game. Jonas Siegenthaler was re-inserted into the lineup on the 3rd defensive pair, and Jakub Vrana maintained his spot on the 2LW position.
Less than a minute into the first period, the Islanders received their first of five power play opportunities as Brenden Dillon was called for tripping. Remaining the #1 penalty kill unit of all teams still in the playoffs was successfully accomplished as Washington killed off all five penalties. 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. Down 2-0 in an elimination game is a less-than-ideal situation to be in, and so bench boss Todd Reirden utilized his time out before the first period was even over. No one except those in the locker room know what was said during the intermission, but it worked. Maybe Reirden just read mean tweets to everyone for 18 minutes. New York started the second with the power play but again didn’t convert, and there was plenty of 5-on-3 and 4-on-4 hockey played across 60 minutes. At the 3:35 mark of the second period, Evgeny Kuznetsov finally got the Caps on the board, cutting into the Islanders lead, 2-1.
Barzal was then called for holding at the 3:46 mark, so Washington had the chance 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.
Three minutes and 40 seconds into the third period, none other than Caps captain Alex Ovechkin would score the game-winning, elimination-avoiding goal, his 2nd of the game, and 4th of the post-season.
The game-winner marked the 69th playoff goal of his career (nice). With the two goals, Ovechkin passed both Gordie Howe and Sidney Crosby for 18th most play-off goals in NHL history.
With 3:20 remaining, the Capitals led 3-2, but Semyon Varlamov awaited the call to vacate the net. A 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.
Braden Holtby, with the win, tallied his 50th post-season win, bringing him within just one game of tying Tuukka Rask on the all-time post-season wins list, two games of passing Corey Crawford, and 11 games away from tying Henrik Lundqvist (HockeyReference). Will those milestones be met with, or without donning the Capitals uniform?
Washington has an all-time record of 19-22 in Game 5s. Braden Holtby has won seven of his last eight Game 5s, has posted a 10-4 record, and has registered a 1.86 GAA and a .935 SV% in 14 career Game 5s.
Below is the remaining schedule vs. NYI:
Game 5: Thurs. Aug. 20 8:00pm EST
Game 6: Sat. Aug. 22 TBD
Game 7: Sun. Aug. 23 TBD
HockeyReference. (2020). NHL & WHA Career Playoff Leaders and Records for Wins. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/leaders/wins_goalie_career_p.html.