For a while it looked like Washington was going to win game one in fairly convincing fashion, but the third period turned the game on its head and gave the Islanders the 1-0 lead in the series. The game itself was hard fought and physical with a lot of penalties and scrums but in the end the Islanders wore down the Caps to take a 4-2 win.
Feisty First Period:
The game started extremely feisty and physical. The theme of the game and potentially was set with 2 fights in the opening 5 minutes. The first gave the Capitals an early powerplay. They did create a few good chances but Semyon Varlamov was sharp to start the game. Including a bomb from Alexander Ovechkin from his office.
Just before the first power break, Matt Martin took another penalty in yet another scrum. A penalty that almost proved costly as John Carlson almost found the opener in tight after a great pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov. All that prevented it was a fantastic pad stop from Valarmov who got across and covered the puck.
As it expired Scott Mayfield took another penalty, and yet again Washington had the chance on the powerplay. In this one, Nicklas Backstrom hit the bar from a tight angle but once again the puck didn’t hit the twine. Another powerplay with good looks but one that didn’t lead to a goal.
After a start where Washington had been in control, partly due to the many man advantages, the Islanders finally started to find their footing. Matt Barzel tried to squeeze the puck past Braden Holtby, but Holtby got the pads down in time. Late Brock Nelson had a golden chance in the high slot, but he just shot the puck wide of the net.
Second Period Cruise Control:
The minor pressure the Islanders had started to generate continued into the second period. A bouncing puck landed in front of Barzel who backhanded the puck towards the net. However, Holtby was alert and made a great stop to keep the score even. The momentum changed however as Matt Martin took another penalty
On the powerplay, the Caps finally broke the deadlock. A blocked shot from John Carlson went behind the net and bounced right over to the stick of T.J. Oshie. With a wide-open net, he one-timed the puck into the net, leaving no chance for Varlamov. It took Washington four attempts but they had finally scored on the powerplay and gained the lead.
Shortly after the goal, New York had a great chance to respond to Washington’s lead, with a powerplay of their own. A shot from the point got awkward for Holtby who lost it and underneath him. A scramble ensued and the puck was bouncing around between the skates and sticks but was eventually cleared. A close call that would come back to haunt them moments later.
Because on yet another powerplay the capitals struck again to double the lead. Once again it was T.J. Oshie who got the goal. A shot from the point by John Carlson created a rebound. The puck went behind Varlamov and after a fair bit of time, Oshie found the puck and poked it over the line for a 2-0 lead for Washington.
The Turning Point:
Like on the first goal, the Islanders once more got a powerplay of their own shortly after the goal. Yet again without results. Their closest chance of the period came shorthanded as Jean-Gabriel Pageau stole the puck. He faked out Holtby and almost found a way to sneak the puck into the net. However, Oshie was alert and made a goal-line stop.
With just one minute left of the period, the Islander finally got one back. Jordan Eberle entered the zone with speed, cut to the right and put a wrister on the net. Somehow this was enough to beat Holtby. A goal Holtby absolute should have saved and surely wants back. With seconds left Eberle almost got the equalizer. A shot hit a skate on its way to Holtby. However, Holtby just got the left pad on it and saved it from trickling past the goalline. A close call but the Caps survived with a one-goal lead going into the third.
Third Period Comeback:
However, the lead didn’t last long into the third period. After just 51 seconds of the period, the game was tied on a goal from Anders Lee. A bombardment of Holtby’s net eventually created a rebound and here Lee was first to the puck and put it into the net.
7 minutes into the period the Caps got the chance on the powerplay. However, like the last one, it was the Islanders who were most dangerous. A mistake from Holtby gave the puck away to Brock Nelson, who sent a pass to Josh Bailey. A quick shot and the Islanders had their first lead of the game.
Seconds later on the same powerplay, Casey Cizikas got a breakaway but his backhander was saved by Holtby. Worrisome signs from the Caps who didn’t seem like the same team after the break. The Islanders were winning all the battles on the board and was by far the better team in the third period.
The Islanders were on top and it seemed inevitable that the Islanders were going to score the next goal. With 8 minutes left, it happened after a defensive collapse from Washington. A few passes and suddenly both Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier was wide open in the crease. The latter finished up a beautiful passing play to make it 4-2, which also was the final score of the game.
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