Christian Arnold, Islanders Point Blank:
New York fell 4-3 in the shootout to the Washington Capitals, as well as saw two players leave the game with injuries. Both Michael Grabner and Calvin de Haan suffered injure that forced them to leave Saturday’s contest early. Grabner went to the Islander room after taking a fist to the face in the first period and de Haan was shook up after getting tangled up with Alexander Ovechkin behind the net, and then getting hit in the body with a shot.
Islander head coach Jack Capuano told reporters after the game that he will be out with an upper body injury. There was no update on de Haan’s condition.
“You don’t want to see anybody get hurt,” Capuano said. “These are two really good players that log a lot of minutes for us, especially when you have eight to 10 rookies dressed in your lineup. We’ll just wait to see what the outcome is and what the doctor has to say.”
Despite the injuries, the Islanders had been playing well. They jumped to a 1-0 lead 12:55 into the first period off a goal from Cal Clutterbuck. The Capitals tied the game early in the second, but the Islanders responded minutes later.
John Persson put the Islanders ahead 2-1 after he shot the puck on net and it snuck through the pads of Capitals’ goaltender Braden Holtby. The goal was Persson’s first in the National Hockey League. Frans Nielsen made it 3-1 during the power play. Josh Bailey fed Nielsen down low and Nielsen fired a quick one-timer from the face-off circle.
But the Capitals just as quickly tied the game back up.
Nicklas Backstrom cut the Isles lead to 3-2 with a goal at 12:45 of the second period and Joel Ward tied the game at 15:01. The game tying goal came off a sloppy turnover in the Isles zone. Ward picked off a clearing attempt right in front of the net and easily beat Evgeni Nabokov.
The game remained tied through the rest of the game and overtime. It was Evgeny Kuznetsov’s lone goal in the shootout that secured the win for the visiting Capitals.
“Obviously we had that lead, but they kept pressing and they kept coming,” Capuano said. “We lose Grabner then we lose de Haan, so I give our guys full marks against a real good team here. A very skilled team. We held some of their guys in check and overall it was good effort.”
The Islanders had a good effort for the most part in Saturday’s loss, but obviously let a win slip away. What can be said for the Isles is that they are hanging with some good teams and giving other teams fighting for a playoff spot trouble.
“We beat Jersey, we beat columbus,” Ryan Strome said after the game. “We’ve been beating some teams that have really been in the hunt right now. We know the standings. We know where we’re at, but a lot of guys are in it for next year and trying to earn spots. These guys are pushing for the playoffs, we’re pushing for a job.”