The Washington Capitals traveled from Boston down to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Their first regular season meeting since the Caps ousted the New York Islanders in the playoffs last year, tensions were high for both sides. This game had the feel of the playoffs, for sure! Michael Latta was back on the ice on the fourth line along with Stan Galiev, in the lineup for the Caps with Zach Sill out on a two game suspension. With Braden Holtby in net for Washington, Jaroslav Halak backing New York, and Alex Ovechkin and John Tavares slinging pucks, this promised to be a good game.
First Period: Taking an Early Lead
In the first period, Jason Chimera got the Caps on the board first with a sharp angle shot that banked in past Halak. Marcus Johansson got the primary assist on Chimera’s 12th goal of the season.
The Caps were also the first team to be called for a penalty. Marcus Johansson was called for an illegal hit to the head on Thomas Hickey. The PK unit successfully went to work and killed the penalty. Later in the period, Alex Ovechkin put the Caps up 2-0 with a laser shot from the faceoff dot. Karl Alzner got the primary assist on Ovechkin’s 22nd goal of the season. This was also Alex’s 497th goal of his career. Edging ever closer to another milestone, chase to 500 continues…
Second Period: Can’t Catch Us
In the second period, the Islanders got on the board with a goal from Brock Nelson. Using the advantage of Matt Niskanen screening Holtby, Islanders cut the Caps lead in half. A few minutes later, the teams go to four on four with both teams getting a penalty. The Isles Matt Kulemin was charged with interference, and Ovechkin being charged with unsportsmanlike conduct. Other than causing tensions to rise further, nothing amounted during the ensuing penalties. Later, the Isles Kyle Okposo was called for high-sticking—Caps to the power play! However, they could not convert on the PP and Okposo was released from the box. With whistle happy refs, you know it won’t be long before the Caps get caught, and Tom Wilson was the guilty party this time. Called for unsportsmanlike conduct, Caps were back on the PK. Luckily, Isles could not convert and Wilson is released from the box. Seconds later, Nate Schmidt puts the Caps up 3-1 with a snipe that goes seven hole on Halak’s right side. Nicklas Backstrom gets the primary assist.
Third Period: All-Star Nicky Gets Empty Net
In the third period, things started get really chippy! Lots of feistiness between these two teams. Ovechkin and Lee exchange forceful hugs during a stoppage in play, Wilson and Martin chortle at each other in front of their respective benches, and later Wilson is up-ended by a hip-check pinch from deHann. Marcus Johansson almost makes it 4-1 with a beautiful play at the front of the net but Halak got a pad down and in the way. With 3:05 remaining in the game, Halak is pulled for the extra skater and Isles get away with a penalty as they had 7 men on the ice.Despite the 2 extra Isles on the ice, Backstrom puts his 12th goal of the season in the empty net to make it 4-1 in the Caps favor.
With the decisive victory, the Caps are now 30-7-3 and have a 14-point lead with 63 points. Up next, the Caps travel about 8 miles from Brooklyn to Madison Square Garden. Playing a very well-known foe, the Caps take on the New York Rangers on Saturday at 1pm.
Written By: Ashley Reid
Photos By: Brittney Marcum