Islanders Top Capitals in Trotz’s Return, Grab First Place

WASHINGTON — Josh Bailey and Cal Clutterbuck scored third-period goals, Thomas Greiss made 19 saves for the shutout and the New York Islanders moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division by beating the Capitals 2-0 Friday night in Barry Trotz’s return to Washington.

Trotz’s Islanders have won four in a row and 14 of their past 17 games to leapfrog the team he coached to the Stanley Cup last year. They held Washington under 20 shots and improved to 7-0-0 in the second half of back-to-back sets this season.

The Capitals have hit a rough patch under new coach Todd Reirden, losing four in a row for the first time since March 2017. Washington has just one 5-on-5 goal during its skid and has lost seven of 10.

Greiss wasn’t tested much on the way to his second shutout this season. Bailey redirected Mathew Barzal’s shot 5:08 into the third to break a 0-0 tie, and Clutterbuck scored on a 2-on-0 rush not long after to help Greiss pick up his 14th victory.

New York Islanders Thomas Greiss Johnny Boychuk
New York Islanders Thomas Greiss celebrates with Johnny Boychuk. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Washington goaltender Braden Holtby was sharp in stopping 23 of the 25 shots he faced in his first game in almost a week since injuring his left eye on a high stick Saturday. Holtby said earlier in the day he was 100 per cent and back to normal.

Trotz was honoured with a video tribute during the first period. Even though he faced the Capitals in Brooklyn earlier this season when he, assistant Lane Lambert and director of goaltending Mitch Korn got their Stanley Cup rings, Trotz expected another emotional night being back in Washington.

Fans gave Trotz a lengthy standing ovation throughout a video summing up his four years in Washington from when he was hired to the scene of lifting the Cup in Las Vegas. The 56-year-old left the Capitals in a contract dispute in June, was hired by the Islanders days later and replaced by longtime assistant Reirden.

Trotz said the Islanders’ progress through 48 games has reminded him of his first season with the Capitals. They’ve been one of the NHL’s bigger surprises in the first season under general manager Lou Lamoriello and Trotz after point-a-game centre John Tavares left in free agency last summer to join his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs.

NOTES: Capitals D Brooks Orpik was honoured for playing his 1,000th career-regular season game earlier in the week. Orpik was given a silver stick and Tiffany crystal as part of a pregame ceremony that included a tribute video featuring former Pittsburgh Penguins teammate Sidney Crosby and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, among others. … Islanders F Tom Kuhnhackl did not make the trip because of an illness.


Islanders: Look for their fifth consecutive victory when they host the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday.

Capitals: Attempt to halt their losing streak when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.


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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press