Both teams entered the break playing very good hockey. The Capitals were on a 13-1-2 roll before the break and went on a 14-game point streak (12-0-2) from Dec 21 until Jan 23. The Islanders now have points in their last six games (5-0-1) including a 4-0-1 mark under interim coach Doug Weight.
The duo of John Tavares and Thomas Greiss have been the cornerstones of the Islanders recent resurgence. Tavares has eight goals and 13 points in his last eight games while Greiss has gone 11-3-3 in his last 17 starts. Greiss’ play has gone up a notch since Jaroslav Halak was put on waivers and Greiss was the clear number one netminder.
Washington’s success has been based on an offensive explosion throughout the lineup led by Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. The strong goaltending of Braden Holtby has also been a big reason for the team’s outstanding January.
Washington Capitals at New York Islanders
Barclays Center – 7:00 PM EST
Broadcast Channels: MSG-Plus and CSN-DC-Plus
2016-17 Season Series: Oct 15: Capitals 2, Islanders 1; Dec 1: Islanders 3, Capitals 0; Dec 13: Capitals 4, Islanders 2; Dec 27: Islanders 4, Capitals 3
New York Islanders – 21-17-9 – 51 points
Home Record: 15-8-5
Hot Players: John Tavares, Nick Leddy, Thomas Greiss
Key Injuries: Travis Hamonic
Anders Lee – John Tavares – Josh Bailey
Anthony Beauvillier – Brock Nelson – Ryan Strome
Andrew Ladd – Alan Quine – Jason Chimera
Nikolay Kulemin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Nick Leddy – Adam Pelech
Scott Mayfield – Johnny Boychuk
Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg
Washington Capitals – 33-10-6 – 72 points
Road Record: 14-5-5
Hot Players: Braden Holtby, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin
Key Injuries: None
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Justin Williams
Brett Connolly – Lars Eller – Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner – John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik – Nate Schmidt
1) Scoring the first goal of game makes a big difference for both of these teams. The Capitals are 27-3-4 this season when they score the first goal and just 6-7-2 when they fall behind 1-0 in games. The Islanders are 16-5-6 when they get the first goal of the game and just 5-12-3 when opponents tally first.
2) Andrew Ladd has had very good career numbers against the Capitals. The veteran forward has scored 16 goals and 36 points, more than any active Islanders player. Ladd has two goals and three points against Washington this season in an Islanders uniform.
3) The Capitals have a big edge on special teams, especially on the penalty kill. The Isles power play is ranked only 26th in the league with a 14.6 percent success rate. The Capitals penalty kill is 4th in the league with an 85.1 percent rate. The Islanders need to score on the power play if they hope to beat Holtby enough to win this game.
4) The Capitals offense has come alive during the team’s recent hot streak. The Caps have scored four goals or more in 12 of the club’s last 15 games. In total, the Capitals have scored 69 goals since December 31.
5) Alex Ovechkin has been outstanding throughout his career against the Islanders. The Capitals captain has scored 33 goals and 49 points in 45 career games against the Islanders. That includes eight multi-goal games.
This has the makings of a good game between two of the hottest teams in the league. The Islanders have found new momentum since Doug Weight took over as interim coach. The Capitals have enjoyed one of the great months of January in franchise history. Both teams look to keep the momentum going in a game the Islanders must win to keep pace in the tight playoff race in the Eastern Conferfence.