Despite trailing early after the first period, the Washington Capitals came back with a vengeance, taking an impressive 4-2 win over the New York Islanders.
With their win, Washington tied Philadephia for third in the Metropolitan with 39 points. Not only that, but they are showing the rest of the NHL that they are still very much a threat, and are climbing the league standings without difficulty.
The first period didn’t mark Washington’s strongest start of the season. They managed to outshoot the Islanders 14-12 in the first frame but truly struggled to limit their chances in the offensive zone.
In fact, New York got on the board first thanks to Brock Nelson, who has had a point in three of his last five games.
Washington entered the second period with much more of an offensive push, which was evident right from the get-go. Jakub Vrana made a great pass off the boards to Lars Eller in the offensive zone, starting an odd-man rush between him and Brett Connolly, who was charging to the net. After Eller dished a great pass in front, Connolly deflected it in to tie the game at one.
Washington’s offense wouldn’t stop there. About five minutes later, the Capitals were on the power play, which had been 0-for-12 against the Islanders prior to this one.
Evgeny Kuznetsov entered the zone with a head full of steam, then took it behind the net and fed a perfect pass to Jakub Vrana for a one-timer. Justin Williams deflected it in to give Washington a 2-1 lead.
However, the lead would vanish a minute later, with Nikolay Kulemin tying the game at two. Though they went into the third period tied, Washington limited New York to just four shots in the middle period.
The final twenty minutes of regulation belonged to Washington, but mostly to Matt Niskanen. About 90 seconds into the third, Niskanen blasted a wrist shot from the right circle for his first goal of the season.
Washington didn’t do a great job of shutting down the Islanders defense, but Holtby was phenomenal between the pipes, stopping all 12 shots they fired through the third period.
With less than two minutes to go in regulation, Niskanen struck again on a late power-play to give the Capitals a two-goal cushion. Despite an empty net, the Islanders had no gas left in the tank and left without a third-period strike.
NYI – Brock Nelson (7) assisted by Cal Clutterbuck and Denis Seidenberg
WSH- Brett Connolly (3) assisted by Lars Eller and Jakub Vrana
WSH- Justin Williams (6) assisted by Jakub Vrana and Evgeny Kuznetsov
NYI – Nikolay Kulemin (3) assisted by Nick Leddy and Casey Cizikas
WSH- Matt Niskanen (1) assisted by Dmitry Orlov and Marcus Johansson
WSH – Matt Niskanen (2) assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson
THW Three Stars
First: Matt Niskanen (two goals)
Second: Jakub Vrana (two assists)
Third: Evgeny Kuznetsov (two assists)
Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes
PNC Arena- 7:30 p.m. EST on December 16
Broadcast Channels: CSN, FSCR