WASHINGTON, DC – Andrew MacDonald’s shot from the right point got through traffic and beat Michal Neuvirth for the only goal of the game in the New York Islanders’ 1-0 victory over the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center in Washington. MacDonald’s goal came at 2:16 of the third period after a sequence where Neuvirth stacked his pads at the right post to rob Frans Nielsen and then stopped Josh Bailey point blank seconds later.
Evgeni Nabokov made 22 saves for his second shutout of the season. Capitals head coach Adam Oates said, “The first thirty [minutes of the game] we did [test him]. I’ve got to give them a little credit. They played well too. They got a shutout; he [Nabokov] played well. We had some good chances that he made look simple. The penalties – you’ve got guys playing a lot of minutes that you need their energy late. The guys fought hard until the end.
“He [Nabokov] played well for us. He made some big saves, obviously, on their power play but again, I thought with all the power plays they had, we still held them under 24, 25 shots. I thought we defended real well. I thought we were structured tonight, and again, the guys played hard. We’ve been playing hard and haven’t been getting the results, but they deserved it,” said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano.
This victory ended the Islanders’ five-game losing streak, while this loss was the Capitals’ seventh consecutive against Metropolitan Division opponents.
“It’s hard to explain. We win [a] big game against Detroit and [then] we have to come back and get to the next game. We can go one game and then the next game is flat. We just have to figure it out. We have 25 games left and it’s going to be a sprint,” said Capitals forward Martin Erat, who was named to the Czech Olympic team before the game.
The best chance of the first period came on a Jason Chimera shot from the left circle, after which Eric Fehr hit the post on the rebound off Nabokov’s initial save. The Islanders would be called for a delay of game penalty at 12:16 when Josh Bailey’s clearance attempt ended up in the stands.
The Capitals forced Thomas Vanek into his second hooking penalty of the game at 9:32 of the second period when the Islanders could not get a shift change under the intense pressure the Capitals applied in their offensive zone. However, the best scoring opportunity on the ensuing power play was Cal Clutterbuck hitting the post shorthanded.
The Islanders would later get another scoring chance when a feed by Matt Donovan from the left circle got through Michal Neuvirth and found Clutterbuck at the edge of the crease, only for him to hit the post again.
Matt Martin was involved in two fracases, the first being a fight with Tyson Strachan in the first period and the second being a boarding penalty that Dmitry Orlov took exception to. It resulted in matching roughing minors to Orlov and Casey Cizikas in addition to Martin’s penalty, at 17:41 of the second period. The Capitals power play was negated 31 seconds later when Troy Brouwer took an interference penalty.
“It was kind of a weird one. You don’t really want to play with fire too much against these guys and give them too many power plays. Fortunately, we were able to draw a couple when they were on the power play and negate them so that was important for us. Like I said, our penalty kill did a great job, and so did (goaltender Evgeni Nabokov) back there,” said MacDonald.http://
After the Islanders took the lead, the Capitals went on the power play after a Donovan holding penalty. Michael Grabner was awarded a penalty shot after John Carlson hooked him on a breakaway shorthanded. Neuvirth stopped the penalty shot, but he would have to make another key save on a Kyle Okposo breakaway to keep it a 1-0 game.
“We’ve just got to find a way to move our feet. We know what tripping is. We know what hooking is. We’ve got to keep our sticks down and just play hockey. We’re not moving our feet as much as we want to, and we are getting caught behind the play. Two breakaways they had and we had to haul them down to stop a goal. It’s not the way we want to play,” said Fehr.
A Lubomir Vishnovsky tripping penalty at 16:55 gave the Capitals one final power play opportunity to tie the game, to no avail.