Thursday on Long Island was far from the night that the Washington Capitals had in mind.
A shot at revenge for a disappointing 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders back on Tuesday in the Capitals’ home finale went to waste, as that lackluster effort carried over on the road. Washington couldn’t get much of anything going until it was too late and ultimately dropped a far-from-impressive 5-1 decision to the Isles.
The Capitals remain in the second Wild Card spot. To finish third in the Metropolitan Division, they have to beat the New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins must lose to the Columbus Blue Jackets in regulation on Friday. If they don’t, they have to play the top-seeded Florida Panthers in the first round. Here are all the takeaways from the defeat in Game 81:
Capitals Special Teams Comes Up Short Again
Washington struggled mightily on both the power play and penalty kill just 48 hours ago against New York, and the same problems plagued the club again at UBS Arena.
The Capitals got a whopping six chances on the man advantage and couldn’t convert. Washington has now gone without a power-play goal in its last four games and is just 3-for-26 over its last eight outings. Not having Alex Ovechkin at the point certainly doesn’t help, but the secondary scoring not coming through in his absence is a major concern.
Meanwhile, the penalty kill again fell flat. New York had three goals on special teams — two PPGs and one SHG — back on Tuesday and added two power-play strikes in the first period Thursday and one later to go 3-for-5 on Thursday. The Islanders picked up six goals against D.C. special teams over the last two games.
With the playoffs right around the corner and the high-flying Panthers potentially the first-round opponents, the Capitals need to get their act together on both fronts.
Goaltending Still A Question Mark For Capitals, But Defense Doesn’t Help
Vitek Vanecek was back in goal with a big opportunity in what was likely his final start of the regular season before the playoffs. With the chance to be named the postseason starter, especially after a tough outing for Ilya Samsonov on Tuesday, Vanecek couldn’t capitalize.
The 26-year-old netminder surrendered a couple of goals that he may want to have back and stopped just 21 of 26 shots (.808 save percentage). His positioning was off a bit at times, however, the defense did not give him much of a chance on some of the goals, either. The play in front of him was not impressive.
Still, there is not a clear starter, and with just one game to go in the regular season, Washington has a lot to consider between the pipes.
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby Gets On Board After Long Wait To Draw Back In For Capitals
Another player with a lot to prove on Thursday did come through with the lone goal for the Capitals in the final minute of regulation. Jonsson-Fjallby played a decent game in his first appearance since March 28.
He skated just 10:14 minutes, managing a goal, two shots, three hits (tied for the team lead) and 46 seconds on the penalty kill. He was on the ice for two goals against, though.
AJF breaks the shutout and wins all of us some food!
Tomorrow you can get a FREE six piece McNuggets with minimum $1 purchase on the McDonald’s app to celebrate! (Available at participating Washington, DC, area restaurants.)
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) April 29, 2022
Jonsson-Fjallby now has two goals and two assists in 22 games this season.
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- Anthony Mantha picked up an assist and has points in two of his last three games. If he’d played all 82 games, he would be on pace for 52 points this season.
- Martin Fehervary also dished a helper and also has points in two of his last three.
- John Carlson was on the ice for three goals against.