Capitals Exorcise Demons, Defeat Islanders In Overtime

Posted April 21, 2015

Wilson didn’t play much, but his hit in the second period caused a stir. (Caps Outsider file)

After losing a heartbreaker 15 seconds into overtime in Game 3 on Sunday, the Capitals needed to find a way to win in Uniondale on Tuesday evening in order to avoid facing an elimination game at the Verizon Center on Thursday. They were able to do so, winning Game Four at the Nassau Coliseum by a score of 2-1 in overtime, thus drawing the series even at two games apiece.

In the first period the Islanders picked up where they left off in the beginning of Game Three. The home team did a great job dictating the pace of the game, putting the Capitals on their heels and forcing them to weather the onslaught. The Islanders went to a power play after an Alex Ovechkin trip and threw everything they could at Braden Holtby and the penalty kill unit. About a minute after the penalty was released a John Carlson shot from the point was deflected by Ovechkin in front of Jaroslav Halak to give Washington an early 1-0 lead. That lead also marked the first time the Capitals scored first the entire series. They couldn’t hold the lead, however, as Casey Cizikas scored with 12 seconds remaining in the period to tie the game at one.

There was a scary scene towards the end of the first period when Brooks Orpik was sliced by a skate blade in his face. He rushed off the ice and down the tunnel to get looked at by the medical staff. When asked about it after the game Orpik said “there was a lot of blood, obviously, and then [John] Carlson was freaking out, yelling at me to get off the ice but it probably looked worse than anything.” Orpik did come back out for the second period and prevented the Capitals from having to roll with five defensemen for an extended period of time.

During the second period, the Capitals struggled to generate any offense or sustained pressure in the Islanders zone due to having to kill off three minors, two of which belonged to Tom Wilson. While the first minor on Wilson was a clear penalty, the second one appeared to be a clean hit on Lubomir Visnovsky and came right after Wilson was released from the penalty box from the first minor and gave the penalty kill unit no time to recover. However, the hit on Visnovsky would prove to be costly for the Islanders as he did not return to the game and forced the Islanders to play one defenseman short. The third penalty of the period against the Capitals came when Mike Green was whistled for delay of game when the puck he cleared out of the defensive zone went up and over the glass. However, while the Capitals failed to score during the period, so too did the Islanders and the score remained 1-0 after 40 minutes.

Both teams played evenly during the third period with the Capitals getting more sustained pressure. Washington also got their first power play of the game as Anders Lee was sent off for interference. The Capitals got plenty of chances during those two minutes, especially when Marcus Johansson couldn’t handle an Ovechkin pass which would’ve left him a open net. They did get a break as the Islanders almost scored a shorthanded goal, but the puck rang off the crossbar and back into play. Both teams continued to get chances throughout the period but neither could convert.

Throughout the overtime period both teams were evenly matched with end-to-end play and an even amount of scoring chances. However, the Capitals were able to wear down the shorthanded Islanders enough where a shot by Backstrom seemed to be tipped on the way towards the net and beat Jaroslav Halak to give Washington its first playoff overtime victory against the Islanders in the Nassau Coliseum. When asked about the goal after the game Backstrom credited Joel Ward with the tally, but minutes later Ward, when asked the same question, smiled and told reporters “that was all Nick Backstrom.”

Barry Trotz said after the game that he “needed more” from Curtis Glencross, who was a healthy scratch for Game Four, but “he’s too good of a player” to not play and alluded to him drawing back into the line-up sometime this series.

Game Five will be at the Verizon Center on Thursday evening. Face-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM. There will be a Game Six at the Nassau Coliseum, but a time has not been determined as of yet, but since it could potentially be the final game in the history of the Nassau Coliseum don’t be surprised for the game to start in primetime.