Game Recap: Capitals at Islanders

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Posted November 6, 2011

Tonight, the Capitals traveled up the East Coast to play the tail end of a back-to-back against an old Patrick Division rival, the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum. Unfortunately, the travel and the game against the Hurricanes Friday night caught up to them and dropped the game 5-3.

In the first period, the Caps looked sharp. They came out looking like they didn’t even play a game last night. Skating was sharp, passes were crisp, and the Capitals did a great job dictating the pace. At 5:24 of the first period, Joel Ward opened up the scoring with the assists going to John Carlson and Jeff Halpern to give the Capitals an early 1-0 lead. Towards the end of the first, there was a scare as Roman Hamrlik was boarded by P.A. Parenteau and was down the ice. Alex Ovechkin came over to come to the aid of his fallen teammate. Both players went off for penalties: Ovechkin received a minor penalty for roughing while Parenteau was given a major penalty for boarding. Then lightning would strike again as Alex Ovechkin ripped a shot past Rick DiPietro to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead. This caused the Islanders fans to break out in raucous as they started yelling to head coach Jack Capuano to pull DiPietro and put in backup Al Montoya.

Then it all went downhill from there.

The Capitals came out of the gate in the second period flat, while the Islanders had more pep in their step. At 1:41 of the period, Frans Nielsen scored a soft goal against starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun to cut the defecit in half to 2-1. The Islanders did a great job of keeping the possession of the puck in their offensive zone and limiting the number of shots and chances the Capitals had in that period. Then at 16:55, Brian Rolston tied the score up at 2, which caused the Islanders to breathe new life and rejuvenated the Islanders crowd.

The third period showed more of the same style of play for both teams. The Islanders kept pressing the tempo and the style of play they wanted. Then at 6:28 of the third, the Islanders took their first lead of the game as Matt Martin put one past Vokoun from assists by Steve Staios and Josh Bailey. Staios would be called for an important interference penalty when he prevented Alex Ovechkin from making a play on the puck to put the Capitals up a man. Brooks Laich would make Staios pay for his mistake as he put one past DiPietro to tie the game up at 3. Both teams battled to try to gain possession and get the advantage over the other one, but in the end, the Islanders were able to use their rested legs as P.A. Parenteau was able to get the puck past Vokoun to give the Islanders the lead for good at 4-3. Then with the empty net, John Tavares took the clear from DiPietro and put it home to make the score 5-3, where it stood for good.

After the game, Tomas Vokoun was very hard on himself about his performance and took the blame for the loss tonight squarely on himself. “I didn’t help the guys much, obviously,” he said. “Those were bad goals. You can’t win when your goalie gives up three bad goals.” Vokoun continued and explained what happened with the three soft goals he let in “I felt pretty good at the start. The first one I kind of relaxed a little too much. I thought they wouldn’t be able to get the rebound. The second one he hit right exact spot where sometimes you just have this little hole between your legs and when the puck hits it exactly the right way, it goes through. The fourth one was just a bad goal. I should’ve covered that puck or put a rebound in the corner or something.”

Alex Ovechkin talked about the team’s play: “I think we had a pretty good start. We scored two goals. After that, we just stopped playing and gave them opportunities to score goals. They’re young, they were fresh and they want to win. After the first period, we just stopped playing.”

Sunday will be an off day for the team. Monday, there will be a practice at Kettler before they take on the Dallas Starts Tuesday at the Verizon Center.