CAPITALS at ISLANDERS
TV: USA, SN360, TVA2, CSN-DC, MSG+
New York leads best-of-7 series 2-1
The New York Islanders will not take anything for granted when they look to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference First Round against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday.
Backed by a raucous crowd, the Islanders were flying high following a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 3 but did their best to turn the page at practice Monday and focus on moving a step closer to winning their first Stanley Cup Playoff series since 1993.
"You have to put it behind us and have the same effort in Game 4," defenseman Johnny Boychuk said. "The crowd was really loud and helped us out. You have to use this home ice and hopefully get another win, because it's an important one."
Boychuk is a big reason why the Islanders are leading the best-of-7 series. Besides his three blocked shots from Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and subsequent swat of his stick to knock the puck out of the Islanders zone in the closing seconds of the second period in Game 3, Boychuk helped limit Ovechkin to three shots on goal and blocked four shots in 26:23 of ice time. His contributions have been especially valuable with defenseman Travis Hamonic sidelined with an undisclosed injury.
"I think we've done a good job," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said of containing Ovechkin. "When you play against the elite players in this League ... they're going to get their chances, there's no question."
The Capitals will try and even the series without center Eric Fehr, who will miss the next two games with an upper-body injury sustained after a hit by Islanders forward Kyle Okposo 3:33 into Game 3. Washington coach Barry Trotz moved forward Jay Beagle into Fehr's spot at practice Monday, flanked by Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer.
"He plays a pretty good role for us," Trotz said, according to the Washington Post. "He's done a lot of stuff on the PK, 5-on-5 and has been a little bit of a checking guy. He's just been one of those quiet guys who has gotten it done. It's a loss but you are going to lose people along the way."
Rookie forward Andre Burakovsky, 20, who practiced on a line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jason Chimera, is likely to play in place of Fehr. No matter who's in the lineup, the Capitals will have to jump-start an offense that's scored six goals in the three games, including one each in Games 1 and 3, to have a chance to take the series back to Washington tied at 2-2.
"That's the thing about a series, is every game you go, it gets more and more important," defenseman Matt Niskanen said, according to the Washington Post. "Three-1 sounds a lot different than 2-2. We've got to steal one in this building at some point. Biggest game of the year for us."