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game recap

Islanders defeat Capitals in Game 2 of Eastern First Round, extend lead

Varlamov makes 23 saves for New York; Ovechkin scores first two goals of postseason for Washington

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Nelson's breakaway snipe

NYI@WSH, Gm2: Nelson beats Holtby on breakaway

R1, Gm2: Brock Nelson picks up the loose puck, races in on a breakaway and snaps it past Braden Holtby to quickly restore the Islanders' lead

  • 00:34 •

The New York Islanders defeated the Washington Capitals 5-2 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round to extend their lead in the best-of-7 series at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Friday.

Nick Leddy, Matt Martin and Brock Nelson scored in the second period, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau had two assists for New York, the No. 6 seed in the East. Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves. 

Teams with a 2-0 lead are 324-51 (86.4 percent) winning a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series. Game 3 will be played in Toronto, the Eastern hub city, on Sunday (Noon ET; USA, SN360, TVAS, MSG, MSG+, NBCSWA). 

 

[WATCH: All Islanders vs. Capitals highlights]

 

"We're playing to our identity," Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. "The two games have been a little bit different … there was a little more flow in this game. I just think that we've got a good, mature group that doesn't get fazed." 

Alex Ovechkin scored two goals for Washington, the No. 3 seed in the East, which was without Nicklas Backstrom after the center was injured in the first period of Game 1 on Wednesday. Braden Holtby made 27 saves. 

The Capitals went 0-for-2 on the power play; they were 2-for-7 in Game 1. 

"We know the system, we watch the video," Ovechkin said. "We all know how to play against those kind of teams. [Like] I said, we have to play better. We have plenty of skills. We have plenty of character in our locker room. We're going to take it game by game. 

"Tomorrow, we're going to watch the video, we'll work on our mistakes, we're going to forget this game and move on. It's not over yet." 

Ovechkin scored his first of the postseason 56 seconds into the first period when he slipped a backhand shot past Varlamov to give Washington a 1-0 lead. 

New York scored three of the next four goals, which all came in a span of 3:58. 

Video: Isles ride balanced effort in Game 2 victory vs. Caps

Leddy tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal at 2:56 of the second period, a slap shot from the left point. Anthony Beauvillier had an assist to extend his point streak to six games (four goals, three assists). 

Martin gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead when he redirected Scott Mayfield's feed at 5:01. 

"Once we started getting pucks in behind them and playing to our identity, we started getting looks, we started getting chances and we were able to capitalize," Martin said. "It doesn't get any easier from here; they have a championship pedigree over there. It's just going to get harder and harder from here, so we've got to be ready and we've got to stay true to our game as much as possible. Hopefully at the end of the day, that's enough." 

Ovechkin redirected Brenden Dillon's slap shot for his second goal at 6:39 to tie it 2-2. 

But Nelson stripped Jakub Vrana at the Islanders blue line and scored on a breakaway 15 seconds later to give New York a 3-2 lead at 6:54. 

"We had done some good things, we had a lead, and then obviously they have guys that can capitalize on opportunities and they had a couple of good looks," Nelson said. "Ovechkin got one to tie it up, so getting the one back right away to establish the lead, we've all been there where it happens against us and it can kind of be deflating. 

"That was big time and we were able to get some chances and some possession. There's going to be little flows and changes in a game like that, and you want to come out on top." 

Washington had three shots on goal in the first 43 seconds of the third period but failed to score, and Varlamov later preserved New York's lead with a glove save on John Carlson's slap shot from the right point at 6:59. 

Ovechkin had a chance to tie it on a power play but shot wide on an open net at 10:14. 

"I just missed the net," Ovechkin said. "[Stuff] happens." 

Cal Clutterbuck redirected a shot from Pageau at 17:14 to make it 4-2. Anders Lee scored into an empty net at 18:21 for the 5-2 final. 

Washington was limited to two shots between Carlson's chance and Clutterbuck's goal. 

"I liked our third period," Trotz said. "You look at the strength down low, Anders Lee, who's our captain, he kept the puck down there for about 30 seconds, and you've got Leo [Komarov] and Brass (Derick Brassard), that's how you win. The guys are committed to that effort. … We didn't back off. We just stayed to our game and we got the result we wanted." 

Backstrom was replaced by center Lars Eller, who played for the first time since Aug. 3. Eller was in quarantine after he briefly left Toronto to be with his wife for the birth of their child. 

Eller and Capitals forward T.J. Oshie each had a minus-4 rating. 

NHL.com staff writer Tom Gulitti contributed to this report 

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