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Capitals Postgame

Capitals Postgame: Beating NYI; What’s Gotten Into The Bottom 6?



Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) keeps an eye on New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/John Munson)

Key contributions from the Washington Capitals’ bottom six helped the team earn a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday, their second win in back-to-back nights.

Alex Ovechkin was able to push the puck past Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov in the first period, breaking the seal that plagued the Capitals nine days ago.

The Islanders were able to add one before the end of the first period, entering the first intermission with the score knotted at 1-1.

From that point on, the wheels fell off for New York.

Despite a stellar save from Varlamov, Capitals center Nic Dowd recovered the rebound and pushed it into the net to gain the lead back. Minutes later, an Aliaksei Protas score only grew the Capitals’ advantage.

The Islanders struggled to respond. After pulling Varlamov in the game’s final minutes, the Islanders ultimately surrendered an empty net goal to Ovechkin that solidified the Capitals’ win.


Nine days after Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov saved 32 shots in Washington, the Capitals changed the story up a bit.

Alex Ovechkin was able to fire a shot past Varlamov early in the first period, giving the Capitals the game’s first lead.

In the second period, 15 shots continued to batter Varlamov. The tries eventually resulted in a pair of scores — one from Nic Dowd, the other from Aliaksei Protas — that allowed the Capitals to surge ahead.


For the second night in a row, the Capitals received key contributions from their bottom six lines — so much that it made the major difference in the game.

Nic Dowd’s goal, coming 13 minutes into the second period, allowed the Capitals to break the stalemate and collect their second lead of the game.

Aliaksei Protas, on the team’s third line, scored six minutes later, challenging the Islanders’ comeback effort that much more.

Against the Devils on Friday night, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Beck Malenstyn  — both on the bottom line — tallied scores en route to the Capitals’ 4-2 win. Thus, more than half of the team’s goals over the past two games came from the bottom six, included three from the bottom line.


The injury bug has not been kind to the Capitals this season, especially in the defensive end. But the team’s roster crunching didn’t appear to cause a struggle Saturday.

After Martin Fehevrary left Friday’s game with an injury, he was sidelined from suiting up against the Islanders. He’s the second blue line regular out of the lineup, with Trevor van Riemsdyk having missed the prior two games, plus offseason addition Joel Edmundson has yet to make his on-ice debut.

Alex Alexeyev replaced Fehervary on the top pair, lining up alongside John Carlson. The Capitals’ defense surrendered the lone goal when Rasmus Sandin and Nick Jensen were on the ice.

Additionally, both Hardy Haman Aktell and Lucas Johansen suited up on the third line, marking the first game of the season that all three preseason bubble players hit the ice in the same game.


The Capitals return home to host the Vegas Golden Knights (12-2-1) on Wednesday. Puck drop from Capital One Arena is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.