Caps score early, shut Islanders down to win, 2-1
This wasn't a win claimed by daring an opponent to an offensive track meet and out-running them, but a game in which the Capitals were able to do the things they've been aiming to accomplish in recent weeks: get off to a good start, capitalize on offensive chances when presented with them and shut down the other team. Washington did all of those things to earn a 2-1 victory over the Islanders and crack the 60-point plateau this season.
"I was really, really excited about the way we held the fort," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We got the 2-0 lead and even though they scored one goal after that, we didn't give a lot up and when we did [Braden] Holtby made a great save or two."
The option of holding the fort and focusing on shutting down the Islanders came from the Capitals gaining an early lead with a goal by Jason Chimera, who played on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, less than four minutes into the contest. Backstrom started the play by bringing the puck up through the neutral zone and dropping it off for Ovechkin, who sent a pass to the front of the net where Chimera was waiting to redirect it past Rick DiPietro.
Playing with the lead from the get-go was a welcome change for the Capitals -- it was just the second time in nine games in January in which they scored first.
"It's much easier I think when you don't have to do comebacks all the time," Backstrom said. "We think we started off pretty good, all the guys were just flying out there. It's good; that's what we need and that's what reminded me of last year too. We came out hard every game and that's what we have to do if we're going to win."
Ovechkin and Backstrom combined for the second goal by going to the net once again. This time Ovechkin led the rush into the offensive zone when he drove to the crease for a scoring chance and Backstrom followed up to bat the rebound over the goal line.
It was the first time since Nov. 26 that Ovechkin and Backstrom recorded multiple points in the same game and those two goals were all the Capitals needed, combined with going 6 for 6 on the penalty kill and 24 saves from rookie Braden Holtby, who claimed his third NHL win.
The Islanders' power play had its best opportunities with the man advantage on their first try. They collapsed down below the faceoff circles and shot any time they had an open look, but after that initial chance the Capitals grew stingier and the shooting lanes weren't always there. Washington allowed the Islanders four shots combined on four power plays between the second and third periods.
"That's what happens, look at our power play," Boudreau said. "Most nights when we get five or six our first one we almost score, we don't and it deteriorates as time goes on because offensive players get frustrated."
Said Holtby: "I forgot how many power plays they had, I didn't think they had that many scoring opportunities. I think we did a great job of not letting them see anything from up top and that's how you're usually successful on power plays. Every time they'd go to shoot they'd see a guy in front of them and try to pass."
--For those who might have missed it tonight, there is unfortunate news from the Avalanche that former Capital Tomas Fleischmann will miss the rest of the season after it was discovered that he has one blood clot in each lung. You can check out the full story from the Denver Post here.
| January 21, 2011; 12:04 AM ET
Categories: Alex Ovechkin, Braden Holtby, Bruce Boudreau, Jason Chimera, New York Islanders, Nicklas Backstrom
Save & Share: Previous: Open thread: Capitals at Islanders
Next: Braden Holtby bounces back against Islanders
Posted by: vermontcaps | January 21, 2011 12:11 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | January 21, 2011 12:19 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: joek443 | January 21, 2011 12:25 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: OccasionalCritic | January 21, 2011 7:20 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: JIMALLCAPS2 | January 21, 2011 7:30 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: PhilR | January 21, 2011 7:38 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Section104 | January 21, 2011 7:50 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: OccasionalCritic | January 21, 2011 7:53 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jmurray019 | January 21, 2011 8:03 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: kcbrichmond | January 21, 2011 8:19 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: jmurray019 | January 21, 2011 8:49 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: MadCap1 | January 21, 2011 10:16 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: hateisnotafamilyvalue | January 21, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: croftonpost | January 22, 2011 12:29 AM | Report abuse