|(Photo by Lou Capozzola/Getty Images)|
More important than just preserving a close lead, the Caps' big guys get some of their offensive juices flowing. Nick Backstrom would have the game's gwg and an assist as well. Alex Ovechkin would finish with a multi-point game netting two assists and Jason Chimera is fitting in on the top line with the game's first goal. John Carlson would also have a secondary assist on the game winner. Braden Holtby would turn away 24 shots to get the win.
The Caps jump out to a rare early lead just 3:41 into the game when crashing the net pays off for the speedy Chimera. After a brilliant deke to free himself on the wing, Backstrom stormed the right side gaining the Islander zone and dropped the puck to Ovi. Ovechkin shot it to the crashing Chimera and it was just a simple tip in to give the Caps the 1-0 lead.
The lead would extend to two goals around the same three minute mark in the second period. Another rush by Ovechkin took Rick DiPietro out of the play leaving the puck alone in the crease. Backstrom made his way to an easy goal as he shot the puck into the open net.
The Islanders would make it interesting just two minutes later when Michael Grabner made a power move to the net and threw the puck up over Holtby's shoulder. After that, the Caps seemed to clamp down defensively and, aside from a few chances late, held the lead.
With Holtby's solid play, the Caps played their best team defense. The Caps blocked 20 shots, including a whopping 7 shots stopped by Mike Green. They also had more take-aways than the Islanders 17-11. Carlson lead the Caps in that category with 4 TKs. The Caps PK was also top notch as they denied the Islanders a power play goal in six chances.
Chimera seems to be enjoying his time on the top line. He had a goal with 6 shots on net to his credit. Chimera's speed seems perfect for the talent of Backstrom and Ovechkin which opened some space as both were heavily defended. With Chimera crashing the net, it often opened the wing side to the slot and both Backstrom and Ovi had the space to become dangerous.
The Caps were not able to convert on the power play, but they only had two chances with the extra man. New York played a disciplined game only taking two penalties. The Caps however were penalty ridden and spent twelve minutes a man down. If they could have stayed out of the sin bin, the Caps could have gained more momentum and maybe could have pressed harder to the net. But the penalties broke up the offensive rhythm and the Caps spent a lot of time playing catch up.
Caps take on Toronto next which is a home coming of sorts for Bruce Boudreau. It will be a tough month for the Caps as they will be on the road 9 of the next 15 games on their schedule. The Caps need to start gaining some momentum offensively to finish the season on a strong note.
- Caps recall Brian Fahey to beef up the defensive core after injuries to Tyler Sloan and Tom Poti.
- Holtby was recalled after Michal Neuvirth was injured in the overtime loss to Philadelphia. Both of the Capitals' young goaltenders are nursing ailments to keep them from carrying the load. Semyon Varlamov is well enough to play backup.
- Former Cap Tomas Fleischmann's season has ended when two blood clots were found, one in his lungs. Flash had found new life in the Avalanche line up and the injury is yet another blow to Colorado who has been riddled with injuries all season. Flash missed Capitals' training camp a few years ago when he developed a blood clot when flying home after the Caps were defeated by the Penguins.