The Washington Capitals looked like a much different team than in Game 1, they were much more active and aggressive as they tried to even the first round series against the New York Islanders. After skating past, over, and around the Capitals in Game 1, the Islanders got off to another fast start. Only, they wouldn’t be able to sustain it as they fell to Washington 4-3. Keep in mind, Capitals net minder Braden Holtby was held out with an illness. It was a much needed win for Washington as they surely didn’t want to go into Sunday’s game down 2-0.
With Holtby not available, it was 23 year old Philipp Grubauer stepping between the pipes. He had a rocky start as the Islanders scored just over five minutes into the first period. Grubauer surrendered three goals on the evening, but didn’t lose his confidence as he finished with 18 saves.
Washington found themselves down 3-1 in the second period after a goal from New York’s Kyle Okposo. That’s when the NHL’s regular season leaders in goals and assists struck, Ovechkin scoring late in the second period to bring Washington within one. The regular season leader in assists got in on the act, tying the game less than four minutes into the third and final period.
The Capitals persistence payed off this game, their activity definitely showed in their hunt for goals. While a good number of shots were off target, they were still shots being taken early and often. That ability to keep attacking culminated with the go ahead goal by Jason Chimera, capping off three unanswered goals by the Capitals. Chimera’s goal described the attitude of his team, his initial shot was blocked but he stuck with it, and put in the rebound.
One of the reason’s for Washington’s inability to score were the Islanders, while the Capitals were actively hunting for their shots, New York players proudly took sacrifices for the team. Blocking 15 shots in just the 1st period, which went a long way in keeping Washington off the board early so that they could build a good lead.
An example of the difference in activity for Washington tonight was the number of hits they doled out to the Islanders, dominating the physical play with 59 hits to New York’s 38. Washington also out-shot the Islanders, as mentioned earlier, firing early and often helped them to a 35-21 edge in that department. That aggressiveness and activity on both ends of the ice was clearly apparent and played a big role in Washington tying this series up at one a piece.
The Capitals are going to have to keep this up if they wish to steal home ice back this series, a win in Game 3 on Sunday definitely would help the cause.