Frans Nielsen rescued a point with a late goal on Thursday night, but the New York Islanders came out on the wrong side of 3-2 OT loss, falling to the Washington Capitals at Barclays Center.
Nielsen scored the tying goal with 1:44 to play in the third period, but the Islanders left unsatisfied, as Justin Williams won it with 43.2 seconds to play in the extra frame.
“It’s a good point because we got it late, but it’s still a bad feeling the way we handled ourselves for 60 minutes out there,” Nielsen said. “When the top team comes into your building, you better be ready to bring it for 60 minutes.”
It was a game of surges, with the Islanders and Capitals pushing each other back and forth, exchanging hits, whacks and shoves, the bitterness from the last season-and-a-half showing through. The game felt a lot like the nine previous Islanders-Capitals with the exception of Thomas Greiss in net. Greiss was good, making 32 saves, but after a third tough loss to Washington this season, the Islanders were still left trying to figure out how to climb Capital Hill.
“We definitely have to find a way to beat these guys,” Nielsen said.
Given the tight Metropolitan Division standings, Thursday’s game held a lot more meaning for the Islanders than the Capitals and they played like it early.
The Islanders opened up a 6-0 shot advantage early, largely keeping the play in the Capitals’ end. The pressure – which included five shot attempts on the team’s first power play – didn’t pay off at first, but the Islanders broke through for the icebreaker at 15:41.
John Tavares maneuvered a Nick Leddy pass from his backhand to his forehand, made a quick inside-out move on Nate Schmidt and snapped a wrist shot short side on Braden Holtby. Tavares’ goal – his 22nd of the season – extended the captain’s point streak to seven games.
Washington responded in kind in the second period, outshooting the Islanders 8-0 in the early goings (and 14-4 in the period), taking a 2-1 lead. Ovechkin scored both goals, first burying a nifty backdoor feed from Evgeny Kuznetsov, who set him up from behind the net, and then beating Greiss with a wrist shot off the rush for the second.
Ovechkin nearly had a third, as the Capitals had a 58-second five-on-three in the second period. Thomas Greiss – who put the Islanders down two men (when I first read this it seemed like you meant down two goals) after clearing the puck over the glass – made two huge stops on Ovechkin, denying a pair of heavy one-timers from the top of the circle.
“You can’t give a team like that the momentum and all the power plays and the five-on-threes,” Jack Capuano said.
Time was not on the Islanders’ side to start the third period, as the Capitals went into lockdown mode. The Islanders didn’t generate a lot of chances in the third, but did have a handful of quality ones. Mikhail Grabovski broke through the Capitals’ defense for a partial breakaway and Nick Leddy had an uncontested wrist shot from the slot, but both were denied by Holtby. Nielsen delivered late, pouncing on a loose puck and beating Holtby upstairs.
"They definitely had a surge for sure, but I thought we had a surge going in the third,” Travis Hamonic said. “You’re not going to completely dominate a team all 60 minutes, but you have to handle it in waves and be able to come back and push yourself and I thought we did that. Overtime is what it is I guess.”
“In the six years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen the standings this tight. It shows how important these points really are. We clawed to get one tonight, but it would have been nice to get both.”
Highlights & Analysis
Islanders Reacts After OT Loss to Capitals
Capuano After Islanders-Caps: It Was a Good Point
Stan Fischler's Brooklyn Beat: Brooklyn College