WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alex Ovechkin’s absence was certainly felt as the Washington Capitals took the ice against the New York Islanders. The team knew that they would be in for a challenge, with third in the Metro within reach and the team without its captain. However, they couldn’t get the job done with the Great 8 on the shelf.
Special teams proved costly, as the power play couldn’t get much going and the penalty kill faltered as another weak third period sunk Washington in a lackluster 4-1 loss to New York.
“We were flat,” head coach Peter Laviolette said bluntly, adding, “We can’t play like we did tonight going into the playoffs. This isn’t who we are. This isn’t our M.O. It’s one night, it was lousy and so that’s that.”
Washington has now suffered back-to-back losses following a hot stretch. With two regular-season games left, the Capitals remain in the second Wild Card spot. The only possible opponents left are the New York Rangers or the Florida Panthers.
Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:
Capitals Special Teams Struggle In Loss
Without Ovechkin, Washington’s power play was missing a major asset, and the team couldn’t quite make up for the absence. John Carlson was in the Ovechkin spot, while Justin Schultz took over at the left point. Upfront, T.J. Oshie, who also suffered an injury scare, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom were up top.
Washington went 0-for-4 on the power play and also allowed a shorthanded goal for Casey Cizikas following a strange mishap behind the net.
“Special teams are big in any game… no excuses. We got to find a way to capitalize,” Tom Wilson said following the loss.
Meanwhile, the Capitals’ penalty kill couldn’t get momentum going and went 0-for-2 on the night. It was a rare occasion where the team let New York get the best of them.
Capitals Suffer Third-Period Collapse
The Capitals had less than an ideal showing in the third period. They surrendered three goals, as Samsonov struggled in net and didn’t have his best outing. There were juggling pucks, odd bounces and more, and the coverage wasn’t as tight as it was in the second, where Washington allowed just five shots on goal.
It marks the second third period where the Capitals have lost a grip on the game and let the game away from them, ultimately resulting in back-to-back losses.
Samsonov also had a tough night, stopping 22 of 26 (.846 save percentage). He lost his stick a couple of times and also juggled the puck on a couple of occasions, and his response on the SHG was also questionable. He did come up with a couple of big saves, though.
Laviolette took a moment postgame to reflect on what happened on this play.
“For me, it probably should've just been a clean break — a clean entry exiting the net — and it wasn't. He came around the other side. I think he got hung up on the net."
— Sammi Silber (@sammisilber) April 27, 2022
Sheary, Johansson Stay Hot, Get Capitals On Board
The Capitals didn’t get off to their best start and appeared to be missing a step as the puck dropped at Capital One Arena. Washington was being outshot 6-2 in the first half of the opening frame, and the Islanders went up 1-0 on a beautiful goal from Kyle Palmieri. However, the Capitals caught a big break, as Peter Laviolette’s coach’s challenge for goaltender interference overturned the tally and kept the game knotted at 0.
After that, Washington woke up and upped the ante. The Capitals were swarming and generating pressure in the offensive zone, and ultimately, got the first goal of the game thanks to good pressure from the second line. Marcus Johansson fired a point shot through traffic, and Conor Sheary tipped it past Ilya Sorokin to make it 1-0.
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) April 26, 2022
Sheary is now on a three-game point streak and is one goal away from his second career 20-goal season. Meanwhile, Johansson now has points in five of his last six games. Meanwhile, Nick Jensen picked up his 16th assist of the season with the secondary helper, a new single-season career-high.
Washington would ultimately head to the second tied 1-1 after an Islanders power-play goal. The Capitals were being outshot 13-10 to close out the first.
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- Johan Larsson skated just 7:38 minutes.
- Connor McMichael also had 10:58 minutes of ice time and didn’t get to truly make the most of his opportunity in the Ovechkin spot, managing two shots and a face-off win.
- John Carlson took over for Ovechkin in the shot department, leading the way with six.
- Garnet Hathaway had a decent game, putting up a team-leading four blocks along with three hits and two shots.
- Laviolette said Oshie was okay as far as he was concerned. No. 77 finished the game.