The Washington Capitals hosted their new Metropolitan division rival New York Islanders for the first time this season. This was a good test for the Caps as they trailed the Islanders in the division standings by just one point. The special teams have been essential to the team’s success all season and it was on display tonight. The penalty kill has killed all but one of the last 40+ power play opportunities by the opposition. The power play struggled last game versus Florida, but the return of captain Alex Ovechkin fixed that. The power play unit recorded four goals tonight against the Islanders.
The game opened up when John Tavares, the captain of New York, scored his seventh goal of the season just after the penalty kill recorded another stop. The Islanders had the only tally at the end of the first, but the second period was much different. John Carlson scored a goal for a second straight game just three minutes into the period. It was a nice all around play by Carlson, holding the blue line and creeping into the high slot burying a wrist shot. Over a minute later, Alex Ovechkin scored the power play goal to give the Caps a 2-1 lead. Just seventeen seconds later, the Islanders first line struck back as Kyle Okposo scored to tie the game. The Capitals got another chance at a power play and nearly seven minutes into the period, Marcus Johansson recorded his first goal of the season. Washington regained the lead 3-2 and they never looked back.
Just over a minute after MoJo’s goal, Alex Urbom scored a slap shot from the outside. Tom Wilson got his first ever NHL point, assisting Urbom in a sliding effort on the ice. With less than three minutes left to go in the second, Alex Ovechkin got his second goal of the game during the power play. It was a cross crease pass, beautifully executed by MoJo on the feed and Ovechkin on the finish. The Caps were down one at the start of the second, and at the end, up by three. While the offense had an explosive second period, Goalie Braden Holtby held his own to keep the lead up. Holtby finished with 34vsaves on 36 shots faced and a .944 save percentage. Holtby has been tremendous as of late after a slow start to the season, winning six of his last eight starts. The power play was not finished yet after two periods of play. Sixteen minutes into the third period, Tom Wilson scored his first NHL goal of his career. It was quite the night for the 20-year-old Wilson, recording his first NHL point and goal in the Verizon Center. Wilson drove the slot toward the crease and Ovechkin found him for a deflection goal past Nabokov.
It was a good win for the Capitals, as they now have a record above .500 at 8-7. They got ahead of a division rival in points and jumped them to sit into second place of the Metropolitan division. They are now currently behind the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are in first place with 22 points. The Washington Capitals have 16 points and are riding on a three game win streak. They face the Minnesota Wild this Thursday night at the Verizon Center.