Capitals Blow Another Opportunity To Climb Standings, Lose Control Over First-Round Destiny In 5-1 Defeat To Islanders, Refs

Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals fell to the New York Islanders by a score of 5-1 at UBS Arena on Thursday night. They remain in the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference as they are a point back of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Each team finishes the regular season on Friday. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 21 saves in the loss.

With a win in any fashion at the New York Rangers (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington in-market, ESPN+ out-of-market) and a Penguins loss (vs. Columbus Blue Jackets) in regulation on Friday, the Capitals will face the Rangers in the first-round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If they lose in any fashion and the Penguins earn at least a point on Friday, they will draw the Florida Panthers. The Capitals will start the series on the road under either scenario.

Capitals’ Lines at Islanders

Graphic: @Capitals

The Capitals shook up their top-six forward group while left-wing Axel Jonsson-Fjallby drew in for center Connor McMichael after their 4-1 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday.

Scratched: McMichael, LHD Matt Irwin, LHD Michal Kempny

Injured: LW Alex Ovechkin (upper-body, missed second game, out day-to-day); LW Carl Hagelin (eye, 25th, indefinite)

First Period

Center Brock Nelson hammered a shot through the five-hole of Vanecek after center Mathew Barzal faked a pass, took a spin in the corner, and fed him cross-ice to open the scoring for the Islanders on the man advantage 10:48 in.

Right-wing Anders Lee redirected Barzal’s pass from the top past the right pad of Vanecek in front of the goal on a four-on-three power play to extend the lead to 2-0 with 4:26 left.

The Capitals led 7-6 in shots, had three giveaways while the Islanders tallied 10, and did not score on their lone power play in the opening period.

The Islanders led 6-3 in blocked shots, won 75% of the draws, and struck on both of their power plays in the first.

Each team tallied nine hits and two takeaways through one.

Second Period

The Capitals led 20-16 in shots (including 13-10 in the second), 19-12 in hits, 4-3 in takeaways, recorded nine giveaways while the Islanders tallied 14, and did not score on their first power play through two.

The Islanders led 10-6 in blocked shots, scored on half of their four man advantage opportunities, and won 68% of the faceoffs in the first 40 minutes.

Third Period

Center Jean-Gabriel Pageau zipped past Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom after he could not keep a pass in the offensive zone, fought off defenseman John Carlson, and roofed one on Vanecek to make it 3-0 after a four-minute power-play for Washington expired 3:44 into the period.

Right-wing Kyle Palmieri one-timed a shot over Vanecek’s arm from the right dot after left-wing Josh Bailey fed him from the right half-wall to extend the lead to four 2:39 later.

Bailey dangled past left-wing Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, deked, and backhanded one under the crossbar after Barzal ripped off Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen at the goal-line to make it a five-spot for the Islanders with 6:23 to go.

Jonsson-Fjallby got the puck at the blueline, skated in closer, and ripped a shot past the glove of goaltender Semyon Varlamov with defenseman Andy Greene screening his netminder with 41.4 seconds left to put the Capitals on the board. Capitals’ rookies have accounted for 32 goals this season, tied for the fifth-most in the NHL.

The Capitals led 27-26 in shots, 22-13 in hits, 5-4 in takeaways, recorded 14 giveaways while the Islanders tallied 16, and did not score on six power plays.

The Islanders led 10-7 in third-period shots, 11-9 in blocked shots, scored on three of their five man advantage opportunities, and won 66% of the faceoffs.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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10 Responses to Capitals Blow Another Opportunity To Climb Standings, Lose Control Over First-Round Destiny In 5-1 Defeat To Islanders, Refs

  1. novafyre says:

    Capitals’ rookies have accounted for 32 goals this season, tied for the fifth-most in the NHL

    What could they have done if Laviolette had actually played them? Instead they sat in the pressbox, sat on the bench with lowest ice time game after game.

    The rookies started the year strong and then as veterans came back, the rookies were ignored. Look, I don’t want an all rookie team. But Lavi really didn’t integrate the rookies.

    And going into the playoffs, a time when the vets need to rest and rehab, he refused to rest them.

    They should be sponsored by AARP.

  2. Anonymous says:

    You can’t just flip the switch next week when the playoffs start. I would have had Ovi going in both of these games. Playoffs really started this week for Caps.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The last two games have been embarrassing.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lavi is clearly a very good coach. He’s made some goofs but overall he got a lot of regular season points out of this team. But I’m not sold on Lavi’s system. As I understand it the team is designed to be aggressive all over the ice all the time no matter what the score is. To me, playing good defensive hockey—at least sometimes—really frustrates opposing teams. Lavi’s Caps are always trying to push the puck up the ice. I dont think we have the personnel for that now. It looks like Backstrom can hardly skate at this point. Kuzy and Ovie make into the offensive about half the time. Our goalies are not good enough to fight off multiple 2 on 1’s.

    The Caps played great D on their Cup run with Trotz. That’s not gonna happen with Lavi.

    Also, our power play is like 22nd in the NHL. How can we possibly win in the playoffs playing this style?

    • Anonymous says:

      I tend to agree with a lot of what your saying about Lavi and defense. One objection is the power play, which was 30th in the league when Oshie and Backstrom were out. Since their return it’s in the top 5 in the league.

      • Lance says:

        Thanks, yeah the power play was dynamite for awhile there. The Caps win a lot of games I expect them to lose (like in Colorado) and often struggle against weaker teams. God only knows.

  5. DC Scappeli says:

    this team can’t take advantage of their opportunities to leap frog the Pens. Oh well, 8th place and WC#2 it is. Still, it’s frustrating to see the lack of consistency in their game. If this is a collective momentum swing (in the wrong direction), then this doesn’t bode well against the Panthers. I mean, if you lose and play competitively, I can be okay with it. But not playing up to your potential, brain farting, sleep walking and showing zero compete level, THAT I can’t be okay with.

    And it shouldn’t be okay with the players. Do they need another players-only meeting?!! Grab your sack, get in someone’s face, and compete! Play with some pride, fer crying out loud. They jsut let the Isles sweep them. Imagine what the Panthers are thinking—they’re licking their chops and are ready to light up the Caps. 😣

  6. Anonymous says:

    Rangers sitting players and going with backup in goal.

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