With Game 7 in the books, the Islanders have all summer to figure out how they’ll respond.
The team registered a season-low 11 shots on goal in their 2-1 defeat, and the captain says that it could have been a product of a team trying to be too fine.
“We just didn’t skate,” John Tavares told reporters after the loss. “It seemed like we didn’t want to make a mistake. All three zones, we weren’t aggressive enough.”
“We wanted to play the Rangers real bad, keep playing more games in our building,” Kyle Okposo said. “We felt like we had enough to raise a banner this year. It just didn’t work out that way. This is going to be on our minds all summer.”
I agree with JT. The Capitals dominated nearly the entirety of this game, as it seemed like the Isles were just trying to play too safe. That’s not their game. Smart decisions are part of it, but New York relies on a relentlessness forecheck and a peppering of shots on goal to get the job done. That just wasn’t the case on Monday.
I feel like this Islanders team, three d-men down and all, would have relished an opportunity to try and knock off the Rangers. That, compounded by the fact that the Nassau Coliseum is now no longer home, makes this one harder to shrug off than most. But there’s a distinct possibility we look back on Monday and consider it a big learning experience for this Islanders group. How tentatively the Islanders played was probably a byproduct of some inexperience. Now that the lessons are piling up, perhaps this will be a blessing in disguise. Still, not even 12 hours later, it hurts just as much, for us and them.
Jack Capuano, Johnny Boychuk and John Tavares discuss a disappointing ending to the Islanders’ season after their Game 7 loss to the Capitals.
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
WASHINGTON — The sadness was palpable in the Islanders locker room after their season came to an end Monday night. Evgeny Kuznetsov put the dagger in the hearts of the Islanders and their fans, scoring what ended up being the game-winning goal at 12:42 of the third period.
It was a crushing end to a series that produced so many memories for the Islanders and the fan base as they gave the Nassau Coliseum one last hurrah before the move west to Brooklyn. Getting back to the Coliseum to play more hockey was the team’s goal and they were disappointed they could not do that.
“We wanted tot get back home,” Islanders head coach Jack Capuano said. “The theme that they have at the Coliseum, with the jumbotron and the music and the chants, we actually played that before the game. So [the fans] were definitely in our thoughts. We wanted to get back there.”
As much as the Islanders wanted to get back to Long Island for a second round series, the effort through the first 40 minutes was lacking. The visiting Islanders mustered only three shots in the second period and four in the second, while Washington had a combined 21 shots in the first two periods.
Jaroslav Halak kept the Islanders in the contest, but Joel Ward managed to get one into the back of the net late in the second as the Isles went into the third period trailing 1-0. To read more of this story, click here
Recap: The Islanders saw their season come to on end on Monday night, losing the Capitals in Game 7 of their first round playoff series at the Verizon Center.
Need to Know: Jaroslav Halak made a few big saves in the early moments of the first period and was impressive throughout the period, keeping the game scoreless while the Islanders were outshot 10 to 3 in the first.
With 18:35 gone by in the second period, Joel Ward put one past Halak to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead.
Frans Nielsen beat Braden Holtby to tie things, 1-1, at the 3:13 mark of the third period. The Capitals answered back with just over seven minutes left in the third, when Evgeny Kuznetsov beat Halak to make it 2-1.
The Islanders got a power play with 2:54 remaining in the third – the first and only power play for either side in the game – but couldn’t capitalize. With just under a minute to go, Jaroslav Halak was pulled for an extra skater, but Washington held off the Isles’ last rush to seal the win.
The Capitals outshot the Islanders 26 to 11.
Links: AP recap | Box Score
There’s only been one Game 7 between the Capitals and Islanders, but it’s stood the test of time – lots and lots and lots of time – as one of the great games in postseason annals.
The “Easter Epic” in 1987 between Washington and New York lasted long into the night before Pat LaFontaine finally won it for the Islanders in the fourth overtime, giving his team a 3-2 victory in the game and a 4-3 win in the first-round series. New York’s Kelly Hrudey made 73 saves in what is still the longest Game 7 in NHL history.
Those two teams will play another Game 7 in Washington on Monday night – the first winner-take-all contest of this year’s postseason.
The Capitals and Islanders both finished the regular season with 101 points, and they’ve both found time to score 14 goals through the first six games of this series – when they haven’t been busy trying to slam each other into the glass. To read more of this story, click here
Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
WASHINGTON — The Islanders seemed poised after the team’s optional Skate at the Verizon Center on Monday.
There could be history made, or an all too familiar story repeated, when the final buzzer sounds in Game 7 of the Isles Stanley Cup Playoff matchup with the Washington Capitals. The Islanders haven’t won a playoff series in 23 years. They have made it to the postseason since then, but making it out of the first round has not happened since 1993.
“This is the biggest game that I’ve been in since I’ve been here,” Kyle Okposo said. “Biggest game for the Islanders in a long time. We’re excited and we don’t really think about the history of it. You just think about the moment and the opportunity that you have in front of you.”
Like the last six games in the series, the Islanders and Capitals will likely put on a hitting clinic. Both teams have played physical styles of hockey throughout the first round matchup.
“It’s obviously going to be an intense battle,” Matt Martin said. “It’s been a great series so far and probably one of the more intense series in the playoffs. We’ve worked hard to get here, so obviously we haven’t dealt with the pain that we’ve dealt with throughout this series to come this far and lose. We need to poor everything we have into tonight.” To read more of this story, click here
Photo: Arena ready for Game 7