|Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV%|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||2-5-1||2.07 / .867|
|New York Islanders||Semyon Varlamov||7-2-0||0.00 / 1.000|
TLDR: Capitals drop do-or-die Game 5 by a score of 4-0, and thus have been eliminated by the New York Islanders. For a second consecutive year, Washington failed to advance beyond the first round. Perhaps, this was the last game goaltender Braden Holtby will play in a Caps jersey, and the last game Todd Reirden will serve as head coach.
Like last game, this was a do-or-die, win-or-go home game match for the Capitals. Washington had an all-time record of 19-22 in Game 5s. If the Caps’ won, they would force a Game 6 which is set for Saturday.
Braden Holtby got the start after an impressive showing back on Tuesday. Holtby had won seven of his last eight Game 5s, posted a 10-4 record, and registered a 1.86 GAA and a .935 SV% in 14 career Game 5s. Most importantly, Nicklas Backstrom made his much-awaited return to the Capitals lineup. Backstrom left Game 1 after suffering an injury. He started the game on the 3rd line between Panik and Kovalchuk, and Eller remained on the 2nd. Brian Pinho was a healthy scratch. Washington needed more production from the entire lineup, sans Ovechkin, but especially the 2nd line. The Vrana-Eller-Oshie 2nd line was a combined -14 in games 1-3. Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov had an all-time 2-8 record in close-out games, and the Caps hoped to push that to 2-9.
Initially, the Capitals established good offensive zone possession, but play transitioned to their defensive zone for a tad bit too long for our liking. Richard Panik nearly gave the Caps’ a 1-0 lead with 11 minutes remaining, but Varlamov snuck out of his crease to make two stops on high-danger chances. The Islanders received the first power play of the evening as Nic Dowd was called for hooking. Unfortunately, the Caps extraordinary penalty kill (18 of 19) was unable to stop a lucky bounce by Anthony Beauvillier, giving the Isles a 1-0 advantage. The Islanders were then immediately called for too-many-men, so the Capitals received their own opportunity with the man-advantage, but wouldn’t convert. The Isles went back on the PP as Lars Eller was called for hooking. Washington would kill off this one, though. Trailing only by one, the Capitals would look to tie it up in the middle period.
Six minutes into the second, a mad scramble in front of the Caps’ net nearly ended up with Anders Lee creating a 2-0 lead, but somehow the puck stayed out. Unfortunately, moments later, Beauvillier scored his 2nd of the game to establish that 2-0 lead at the 9:33 mark. After playing their best two periods of the post-season in Game 4, the Capitals played one of their least inspiring periods in the second. To top off the lethargic play, Washington went back on the penalty kill as Richard Panik went off for high-sticking with under three minutes remaining. But then, Carl Hagelin drew a penalty as Beauvillier went off for hooking, and with that, the Isles PP was over.
Still trailing, now by two, the Capitals had 20 minutes left in their season to salvage any chance they had at continuing their playoff run. Not only might this be Braden Holtby’s last game with the Capitals, it is broadcaster Rob Carlin’s last game with NBC Sports Washington, as they chose not to renew his contract. Immediately off the draw, the Caps had a great scoring chance spoiled by Varlamov. No penalties had been called in the third as the clock neared the 10-minute mark, and the Capitals played very lifelessly. Not to say they weren’t trying to get something going, but it was difficult to tell. With 2:15 remaining, Todd Reirden elected to pull Holtby for the extra attacker, but Nick Leddy scored short-handed to make it 3-0 Islanders. Then moments later, they made it 4-0 with another empty-net goal with 1:29 left.
TXHT’s Three Takeaways of the Game
- It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later
- Will Todd Reirden have a job next week?
- Who do you think will remain with the team, and who won’t?