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POSTGAME NOTEBOOK: Isles 3, Caps 0

Caps are shutout in season finale for fourth time in last six years, Stephenson sets obscure franchise mark, Orlov and Vrana play em all, more

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / washingtoncaps.com

That's A Wrap - The Caps finished up the 2018-19 regular season with a meaningless - for them, anyway - tune-up tilt on Saturday night, dropping a 3-0 decision to the New York Islanders. Within minutes of the end of the game, the Capitals also learned the identity of their first-round opponent in the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Carolina Hurricanes.

Washington rested regulars Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson, and T.J. Oshie, and also gave No. 1 netminder Braden Holtby the night off against the Islanders.

Saturday's game meant a good deal more to the Islanders, who finished the season with 103 points, just one less than first-place Washington in the Metropolitan Division. It's the most points recorded by an Islanders team since the 1983-84 edition totaled 104 points, and it gives the Isles home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, a luxury they last enjoyed in 1988.

New York also completed one of the most remarkable turnarounds in NHL history, going from last in the NHL in goals against (293) in 2017-18 to first in the league in goals against (191) in 2018-19. The Islanders are the first NHL team to engineer a worst-to-first turnaround in goals against in 100 years.

The Isles will face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round, marking the fourth straight spring in which ex-Caps bench boss Barry Trotz will be going up against Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

Video: Postgame Locker Room | April 6

Rocket Man - Caps captain Alex Ovechkin finished the season with 51 goals to lead the league, claiming the Rocket Richard Trophy for the eighth time in his NHL career, the most in league history. Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Hull led the league in goals seven times over the course of his career, and Ovechkin broke the tie with Hull this season.

At 33 years and 201 days, Ovechkin is the sixth player in NHL history to lead the league in goals at the age of 33 or older. He joins Bill Cook (36 years, 165 days) in 1932-33, Nels Stewart (34 years, 82 days) in 1936-37, Maurice Richard (33 years, 228 days) in 1954-55, Gordie Howe (34 years, 358 days) in 1962-63, and Phil Esposito (33 years, 45 days) in 1974-75 on that distinguished list.

All Of This And Nothing - It's been 11 years since the Caps have played a season finale that meant something to them in terms of making or missing the playoffs. They defeated Florida 3-1 on April 5, 2008 in their '07-08 season finale, running their winning streak to seven straight and overcoming the Carolina Hurricanes for the Southeast Division title on the final day of the 2007-08 season.

In most recent seasons it's been obvious the finale means little to the Capitals. The team typically rests a handful of key players, and usually finds it difficult to score. Saturday night's shutout was the seventh suffered by the Caps in the final game of the season, and six of those have occurred in the Ovechkin era. They've been blanked in the season finale three times in the last five seasons and four times in the last six.

Video: Todd Reirden Postgame | April 6

It's Hard To Be A Saint In The City - Caps forward Chandler Stephenson skated in 64 games this season, going the entire season without taking a penalty. Stephenson set a Washington franchise record for most games played without taking a penalty over the course of a season, obliterating the previous standard of 27 games set by Keith Aucoin in 2011-12.

Only 10 players in league history have played more games in a season than Stephenson without accruing any penalty minutes, but the feat has been achieved 13 times. Pittsburgh's Val Fonteyne did it three times (1967-68, 1970-71 and 1971-72). Fonteyne finished his NHL career with a remarkably low total of 26 PIM in 823 regular season games, and he had only 4 PIM in 149 career games in the World Hockey Association.

The all-time single season record for most games without any PIM is jointly held by Craig Ramsay (78 games with Buffalo in 1973-74) and Butch Goring (78 games with the Islanders in 1980-81).

Everyday People - Washington defenseman Dmitry Orlov and forward Jakub Vrana finished the season as the only two Caps to skate in all 82 games during the 2018-19 season.

This season is the fourth consecutive campaign in which Orlov has skated in all 82 games, and he is one of four defensemen in the league who have done so. The others are San Jose's Brent Burns, Los Angeles' Drew Doughty and Florida's Keith Yandle.

Back In The Saddle Again - Washington winger Dmitrij Jaskin saw action for the first time since Feb. 17 in Saturday's finale, and defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler played his first NHL game since Feb. 5.

Jaskin skated 9:32 on the night, recording one shot on net and four hits. Siegenthaler skated 18:06 in the game and was credited with one blocked shot.

You'll Get Nothing And Like It - The Isles blanked the Caps twice in Washington in 2018-19; they shutout the Caps behind Thomas Greiss on Jan. 18. This marks the first time a team has shutout the Caps in Washington twice in the same season since 1996-97, when the Islanders' Tommy Salo turned the trick. Salo also blanked the Caps once on the Island that season, so he had three whitewash wins against Washington in '96-97.

The last time the Caps suffered home ice shutout setbacks at the hands of two different goaltenders from the same team was in 1993-94 when the New York Rangers' Mike Richter (Nov. 13, 1993) and Glenn Healy (Dec. 23, 1993) accomplished the feat. The Rangers won the Stanley Cup following that season.

Down On The Farm - The AHL Hershey Bears suffered a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Laval Rocket on Saturday. The Bears won two of three games in a three-in-three weekend of road games that started on Thursday in Toronto.

The Bears were down 1-0 heading to the third on Saturday, but Laval broke the game open with three goals in the first 6:01 of the third to take a 4-0 lead. Steve Whitney scored his seventh goal of the season for Hershey at 10:26 of the third, Jayson Megna and Ryan Sproul assisting.

Less than three minutes later, Maximilian Kammerer notched his third goal of the season with help from Sproul and Whitney, making it a 4-2 game at 13:20 of the third. But that was as close as the Bears got, as goaltender Ilya Samsonov fell to 19-14-2 in stopping 26 of the 31 shots he faced.

Hershey has four games remaining in the regular season, and it will play three of them at home. The Bears will be back in action again on Tuesday when they host the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. They will conclude the regular season on April 14 with a home game against Hartford.

By The Numbers - Nick Jensen led the Caps with 23:26 in ice time, the most he has skated in his 20 games with Washington this season. Jensen also led the Caps with three blocked shots … Brooks Orpik led the Caps with five shots on net … Alex Ovechkin and Lars Eller paced Washington with seven shot attempts each … Ovechkin led the Caps with five hits … Nic Dowd won six of nine draws (69 percent) and Eller won 11 of 18 (61 percent).

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