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#CapsIsles Postgame Notebook: Cooling Off A Rival

Caps cool Isles, secondary scoring leads the way, Caps get offense from the defense on all four goals, more

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps /

Heading into Thursday night's game between the Caps and the New York Islanders at Capital One Arena, the Isles were among the league's hottest teams. Winners of five of their previous six games, the Islanders scored a total of 29 goals in those six games, and their power play had been clicking at rate of better than 30% over that span, and it had gone 5-for-10 (50%) in its previous two games.

Additionally, Isles captain John Tavares came into Thursday's game with 11 goals in a dozen games on the season, and nine goals in his previous five games. 

The Caps couldn't cool off the Islanders' power play, and they couldn't cool Tavares, either. New York struck for a pair of power-play goals, including one from Tavares, but the Caps got some clutch netminding from Braden Holtby (35 saves) and a couple of goals from Lars Eller, including the game-winner with just 3:21 remaining in regulation.

The Caps did chill the Islanders by a 4-3 count, winning a four-point game against a division rival and creeping closer to the rest of the Metropolitan Division pack in the process. 

There's No Place Like Home - Thursday's win ended a rare three-game home losing streak for the Capitals. The Caps had lost three straight home games in regulation for the first time in nearly four years, and were seeking to avoid their first four-game regulation slide at home in nearly a decade, since November of 2007. 
Video: Eller's three points lead Caps to 4-3 win on home ice
Leading Men - When Taylor Chorney scored to stake the Caps to a 1-0 lead at 5:55 of the first period, it marked the first time in eight games that Washington had scored the first goal of the contest. It also gave the Caps their first lead on home ice in four games, since they won their home opener over Montreal by a 6-1 count on Oct. 7.

Secondary Modern - Caps coach Barry Trotz mentioned on Thursday morning that he was seeking some secondary scoring, pointing out that his bottom six forwards had only accumulated 13 or 14 points to date on the season.

In Thursday's game, all four Washington goals came from the team's third and fourth lines, with Eller's line manufacturing three of them.

Washington's bottom six forwards put up eight points (three goals, five assists) in Thursday's game, led by Eller's three-point game (two goals, one assist).
Video: Caps Postgame Locker Room| November 2
Doubling Up - Eller's two-goal game was his second as a member of the Capitals, and it was the seventh multi-goal game of his NHL career. Eller netted two goals for the Caps in Washington's 8-7 loss to the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Jan. 16 of this year. 

Eller's career high for goals in a game is four. He netted four goals - and piled up five points - for the Montreal Canadiens in a Jan. 4, 2012 game against the Winnipeg Jets. 

A Rarity - One of the time-honored adages of hockey is that if you lose the special teams battle, you usually lose the game. And that has certainly proven to be true over the years.

In Thursday's game, the Caps were just 2-for-4 on the penalty kill, and they were 0-for-4 on the power play. It's been quite some time since the Caps won a game in regulation in which they surrendered multiple power-play goals without scoring any extra-man tallies of their own. 

Prior to Thursday, it had been almost exactly seven years since it happened. Back on Nov. 5, 2010, the Caps forged a 5-3 win over the Boston Bruins in Washington, a game in which they went 0-for-3 on the power play and just 1-for-3 on the penalty kill. 

Second period goals from Tyler Sloan, Mike Green and Alexander Semin (shorthanded) staked the Caps to a 3-0 lead over Boston that night, but the Bruins roared back with three goals in the first half of the third period, two of them on the power play.

With the game tied and 10:09 remaining in the third, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau lifted starting goaltender Michal Neuvirth in favor of Holtby, who was making his NHL debut. Holtby made four saves the rest of the way, and John Carlson's late goal and Alex Ovechkin's empty-netter made a winner of Holtby in his debut. 
Video: Barry Trotz Postgame | November 2
Offense From the Defense - Going into Thursday's game, the Islanders' defense had been involved in much of the team's attack. New York defensemen had accumulated 28 points (three goals, 25 assists) in the team's first dozen games, a rate of better than two points per contest.

The Caps' defensemen had contributed just 18 points (two goals, 16 assists) in a dozen games, but Washington's blueliners ramped up that contribution in the win over the Isles.

Chorney scored the first goal, Madison Bowey assisted on the second, and Carlson earned helpers on the Caps' third and fourth goals of the night, bumping the Washington blueline up to 22 points (three goals, 19 assists) in 13 games.

Helping Hands - Rookie Caps forward Chandler Stephenson earned the primary assist on each of the Caps' first two goals of the game, earning the first two helpers of his NHL career, and the first multiple-point game of his NHL career. Stephenson netted his first career goal a week earlier against the Canucks in Vancouver. 

By The Numbers - Carlson led the Caps with 27:28 in ice time … Eller and Jakub Vrana led the Caps with three shots on net each … Carlson led the Caps with seven shot attempts … Devante Smith-Pelly led the Caps with four hits … Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Chiasson led the Capitals with three blocked shots each … Eller won nine of 12 draws (75%), Evgeny Kuznetsov won eight of 11 (73%), and Jay Beagle won nine of 14 (64%) on the night.

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