Takeaways From The Capitals 3-0 Loss To The New York Islnders

Photo: X/@Capitals

The final score of Thursday’s game between the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders did not replicate the action on the ice. The Islanders defeated the Capitals 3-0, snapping Washington’s three-game win streak and it was the second time this season that the Caps were held off the scoresheet. 

Based on the score, one might think that the road team dominated from start to finish. Yet that was not the case. The Capitals (4-4-1) controlled the pace of play for the first two periods. Their Corsi for was 64.4% at even-strength and the Caps outshot the Islanders 32-21. However, Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov was the difference, stopping all 32 shots and coming up with key saves.

“We’ll look at a lot of the positive things we did to create that. From a forecheck standpoint, ozone movement standpoint and then get back to work on the same thing that’s plagued us through nine games,” Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery said after the loss. “Being able to finish in those opportunities, create more havoc, make it more difficult on goaltenders. When we need to find areas to deliver more tips, screens, rebounds, second-chance opportunities; all those things we’ll continue to hammer home and work on in practice.”

Here are three things that stood out in Thursday’s loss.

Strong Sustained Zone Time

The Capitals had lots of sustained pressure in the offensive zone, which was the story of the game for the first two periods. 

“I think there is more room to be creative and finish those chances that we have. I feel like the last pass has to be better and everything has to be better but eventually you know sometimes that’s the game,” Evgeny Kuznetsov said. “You feel like you control everything but they lead the way and they defend well. There are a lot of good and bad clips that we can learn from.”

Washington’s best chances came in the first period. Shortly after Ryan Pulock’s opening tally, which came 22 seconds into the game, the Caps went right back to work and strong periods of time in the o-zone. The first Grade-A chance came from Dylan Strome. He was wide open in front of the net but sent the puck over the Islanders goaltender.

The Caps continued to pile on pressure and had a gorgeous passing sequence between Rasmus Sandin, T.J. Oshie and Sonny Milano, but Varlamov was able to squeeze the pads.

So while the Caps did a good job of getting in on the forecheck and having sustained pressure, the bounces would simply not go their way once again.

Lots of High Danger Chances; Good Net-Front Presence; Can’t Finish On Rebounds

Going along that same trend of outplaying the opposition, the Capitals had 16 high-danger chances through 40 minutes of play. The Islanders only had three. This makes Thursday’s loss even more frustrating. 

The Caps had decent net-front presence but struggled to bury the loose pucks. 

They came close though. Oshie was battling in front of Varlamov and Hardy Häman Aktell threw the puck towards the net, and it bounced off of Oshie’s hip and into the net. However, the play was called back due to goaltender interference. But those are the kinds of goals that the Capitals need more of. 

“It’s that traffic in front of the net that is gonna cause these pucks to fall in,” defenseman Nick Jensen said. “If we keep doing what we’re doing and keep attacking the net and take the goalie’s eyes away a little more often, it’s going to be tough for these goalies to play when they can’t see the puck.”

Pulock’s goal was because of the net front traffic in front of Darcy Kuemper. The Capitals have yet to score one of those greasy goals in front of the net, where they are battling for the puck with a plethora of traffic.

“You can’t just keep chalking it up, ‘Oh, at some point.’ We’re in game nine and we’re not scoring five-on-five at all. So, why? That’s not a small sample size. That’s not two games. That’s not three games. That’s nine games,” Carbery said. “We are not finishing, finding ways to do all those things that I described at the beginning of up tonight of screen tips, ugly goals, rebounds, those things.”

Not A Great Night for Darcy Kuemper

Darcy Kuemper let up two goals on the first two shots of the game, and then he gave up the Islanders’ last goal of the game on their sixth shot. He did not face a lot of rubber until the third period when he stopped all 12 Islander shots. 

Pulock’s goal was from the point and Kuemper was screened on the play. The second goal he had no chance on as it was an odd-man rush. Brock Nelson’s tally is the one that he’d probably like to have back. Kuemper was a little deep in his crease and Nelson was falling down. 

It looked like the Capitals netminder thought Nelson was going to pass across the ice, but he ended up going five-hole instead. So while there are still issues with Washington’s defense, Kuemper could have come up with some big saves like he has shown to do in the past. 

Notable Numbers and Observations

  • Was not a very good night for the power play. It went scoreless for the second straight game. It is now 0-for-6 in the last two contests. 
  • Connor McMichael looked very strong at center. Was very effective on the forecheck
  • T.J. Oshie is bound to get a goal at some point. He has been playing great hockey and continues to battle in front of the net. He also wore a neck guard during the game. 
  • The Islanders blocked 23 shots and the Caps only had 6
  • The Caps PK was 2-for-2 
  • Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, Dylan Strome and John Carlson had tough nights. Each of them were on the ice for all three goals. Strome and Ovechkin’s point streaks have ended.
  • The Capitals had 18 high-danger chances at even-strength
  • Washington had 37 scoring chances and 25 shot attempts. 14 of those scoring chances came in the first period and 15 came in the second. 

The Capitals will look to get back into the win column when they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Capital One Arena. 

By Jacob Cheris

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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37 Responses to Takeaways From The Capitals 3-0 Loss To The New York Islnders

  1. Anonymous says:

    i read both your site and RMNB. RMNB has a lot of “fans” up in arms about some song by the beatles last night? i didn’t get to watch last night and their message board is a cliquey mess of clowns that only reply to certain people.

    • Lenny says:

      So you’re complaining about off-topic comments by not mentioning the article at hand but focusing comments on a different website?

    • Anonymous says:

      RMNB is a garbage dump of PC politics, quasi-hockey stories, and idiots arguing in the comments section.

      • novafyre says:

        I left RMNB when I got comments deleted and despite numerous requests to the hosts could never get an answer why. I feel a website is the hosts’ home and I am there as a guest, but if I am silenced, the host owes me an explanation why. They wouldn’t, so I left.

        • Anonymous says:

          They won’t tolerate any criticism of their blog, or their cliquey commenters. They focus far too much on frivolity like what the players wear off the ice, their families, pets, kids etc.

          OK, I understand that some off topic subjects are fine, for a change of pace, every once in a while, but when you do it often, then you’ve stayed from a hockey focused blog, into an entertainment-celebrity focused, fanboy site.

          • novafyre says:

            I was on topic and thought I was polite. Probably some AI checkbot deleted me because I used some forbidden word. It happens. But if they won’t tell me how I offended the site, how can I learn? Not worth my time and effort. So I left.

            • Anonymous says:

              Let me ask you…what are your politics? If you show that you don’t agree with leftist thinking, they’ll flag you. That’s not tinfoil hat paranoia. At least two of their bloggers are far leftists, and they pretty openly encourage leftist thinking.

              • novafyre says:

                Never got into politics. At least I didn’t think so. But since they would never get back to me I will never know how I offended them. I often disagree with articles or comments but I try to stay on topic and polite. If I do sin, I want to be told why I’m being sent to the sin bin.

                • Anonymous says:

                  The only other thing I can think of, is you showed too much hockey knowledge. The bloggers there seem to be on an ego trip, and they don’t want people in the comments showing them up. I noticed that the 3 or 4 people there who had real hockey knowledge, not just watching 3 Capitals games a week, but knowledge of the rest of the NHL, minor leagues or amateur hockey, got banned. I dunno. They’re something else. It’s their blog. But frankly, I think they’re embarrassing themselves, with such a lightweight approach.

                  • novafyre says:

                    Don’t think my hockey knowledge would threaten anyone alas. I have found that on some sites AI bots do initial reviews and sometimes they don’t like a word I’ve used. If I change my wording I can get it accepted. But didn’t work at RMNB and they offered no feedback. I’m sure that they don’t miss me. I don’t miss them.

      • Anonymous says:

        I have to tilt my phone to the Left, to read RMNB. Otherwise, it won’t display correctly.

      • Anonymous says:

        “RMNB is a garbage dump of PC politics”

        This is especially absurd, when all these Leftists are fans of a hockey team whose captain is a Putin supporter, and that the team is 5% owned by a country where homosexuality is illegal.

        And they don’t even get the hypocrisy. Sad.

    • Anonymous says:

      LOL bro, you’re absolutely right about RMNB. I’ve lost track of the amount of times I’ve been banned from there, for telling the truth.

      They have articles about hoodies, dogs, wives, weddings…but no prospects roundups. It’s like TMZ

  2. Anonymous says:

    Complete dud. Joe B mentioned a couple of times there was a discernible depression at medstar following Nicky’s shocking announcement. Possibly a carryover?

    • novafyre says:

      I can see that depression carrying over if you just saw your teammate killed (possibly murdered) on the ice. But everyone in the Caps organization knew that coming back from the surgery would be a real struggle and the odds were against it being successful. It should not have been a big factor in their play.

      • Anonymous says:

        I agree with that. The fact is we are not a good team. We’re not horrible, but certainly not good. Management needs to decide if they want to suffer through a rebuild season- hoping the young guys develop quickly, or spending some of that Backstrom money on free agents/trades this year rather than later.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I disagree that an odd man rush resulting in a goal isn’t the goaltenders fault at all. Holtby stopped the majority of those he faced. Not impressed with one shot one goal Kuemper.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t remember Caps’ history, do you? Holtby struggled so badly during the majority of the 2017-18 season, that he lost his starting job to Phillip Grubauer. He didn’t regain it, till the team got into a 2-0 hole against Columbus in the playoffs. I forget what happened next…something about a silver cup, wild celebrations, a parade, a fountain dive…

  4. Anonymous says:

    I disagree that chances mean the Caps dominated. Isles play this style they don’t pressure much. Instead they box out and use transition to score. This was a typical Isles game and Caps just got caught shooting from the perimeter with very little secondary attampts and overall defensive breakdowns that cost them. At no point of the game it felt that Isles were in danger of loosing this game. That said, this game should’ve been 1-0. The second and third goals are the result of bad defensive plays. Aktel pinching on the second and Fehervary turning away from the play and tripping Carlson on the third. It the score was 1-0, it may have been a different game in the third period and Caps could have tied it.

  5. Anonymous says:


  6. Anonymous says:

    Does it matter if you dominate the game and lose? The W is what matters. Using a football term “playing ugly”. Does not matter if you make the perfect pass, perfect shot or make the save with grace as long as it gets done? and no need to say IF or could have because they didn’t. At best this is a 40 win team and at worst a 20 win team and I think closer to 20/25 wins than 40. And Backstrom leaving has no reflection on the win total.

    • Anonymous says:

      Bad habits catch up with you, even if you’re winning. I can refer you to the 2010 Caps. They were accused of not playing right…and they weren’t. Montreal exposed that.

      What I don’t like about this team, is the tendency to get too fancy. It’s always one more move, one more deke, one more pass. They need greasy goals, right now. Someone needs to tell them they’re not the 1985 Oilers.

      A combination of the pretty goals, and the greasy goals, will get them Ws. Like, I dunno, the 2017-18 team?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Takeaway is sell.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Observations from last night’s game:

    We suck

    That is all

  9. Anonymous says:

    you know what’s funny? i asked a question about what beatles song was played last night. and all these people on here that trash RMNB did was ignore my question and go off on their own sub-topic…kind of like hypocrisy eh?

    • novafyre says:

      I have no idea what Beatles song was played last night so I didn’t reply to you. I had left RMNB so did respond to comments about their site. What hypocrisy?

    • Anonymous says:

      “i read both your site and RMNB. RMNB has a lot of “fans” up in arms about some song by the beatles last night? i didn’t get to watch last night and their message board is a cliquey mess of clowns that only reply to certain people.”

      To paraphrase Jeopardy: your question must be in the form of a question.

      You never asked what it was. Your question was actually asking if the people there were up in arms about the song. Few, if any, of us here would know the answer to that, since we don’t go there.

      Or, as the old saying goes : ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

      Context is important. Grammar is your friend.

    • andrew777dc says:

      I replied above just now. It’s called Now and Then, made from some previously unreleased recording found in the trash bin of their studio or something like that. Sounds pretty nice, though, and they made an AI-enhanced music video, with Paul McCartney involved, of course.

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