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Islanders' goal to slow Capitals' Ovechkin, Backstrom

by Jon Lane /


TV: CNBC, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC

Best-of-7 series is tied 2-2

The Washington Capitals regained home-ice advantage and will take it into Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the New York Islanders on Thursday at Verizon Center (7 p.m. ET; CNBC, SN, TVA Sports 2, MSG+, CSN-DC).

The Capitals won Game 4 2-1 in overtime, but that did not dim the Islanders' confidence heading back to Washington.

"Don't change what we do, just play to our identity," coach Jack Capuano said in audio provided by the Islanders. "The crowd's going to be loud there, they're going to have a lot of emotion back in their building. Just go in there with the same focus that we've had all year long and do the things that we do."

For starters, the Islanders will have to slow down forwards Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. In New York's two wins, they've held them to a combined one point, but have been burned in particular by Backstrom in two losses. Backstrom has a goal in three straight games, including the overtime goal in Game 4, and his six points led the NHL in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ovechkin has two goals and three points in the series.

"You knew those two guys were going to be factors," Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey said. "I think we've done a really good job of staying in the right spots and not giving them too many Grade A chances. Look at the goals they get. They're shots in the high slot, screens, seeing-eye goals ... when you get some of the best guys in the world you expect them to get those chances and produce a little bit, but just limit it to that."

The Capitals' penalty kill, 14th in the NHL during the regular season, has negated all 10 of the Islanders' power-play chances, including three within six minutes of the second period in Game 4 that forward Tom Wilson hopes he can look back at as the turning point of the series.

"A power-play goal can be the changing of the series," Wilson told Monumental Network. "They stood tall and [goalie Braden Holtby] back there, that's huge. At no point I want to take a penalty, but you play hard in the playoffs, and when you do it's nice to have a penalty kill that's going to back you up."

Holtby made 76 saves on 79 shots in the past two games after allowing three goals on 26 shots in a Game 1 loss, when he was battling an illness that kept him out of Game 2.

"As the series is getting harder and harder we're liking it more and more," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We're accepting and embracing the battle. We started Game 1 with some adversity and we've fought through adversity it seems through the whole series here. That's just making us stronger. Our guys are OK with that."


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