The Islanders went from frustrated by their opponents to frustrating them in less than 24 hours as they smothered the Capitals with a relentless forecheck and sound positional defense ending the Capitals home winning streak at seven.
Evgeny Nabokov notched the his first Islanders shutout and the Islanders first as a team this season but was rarely tested seeing only 17 shots (season average 29.6 shots against per game), good enough for second star of the game.
John Tavares got things started in the first period on a power play drawn by Kyle Okposo’s work along the boards. Matt Moulson emerged from the corner with the puck and sent a dangerous looking slow pass toward the high slot. Luckily, it was perfectly placed where only Mark Streit could get to it. He launched the now famous fake-shot, slap-pass to Tavares parked to the left of Tomas Vokoun for the tip in.
Then it was the PA Parenteau show.
His first goal was off a strong forecheck and by him and Frans Nielsen that created a turnover deep in the Capitals zone. Nielsen picked up a loose puck and found Parenteau in the right circle where he fired a low glove side wrist snipe past Vokoun.
The second goal was a set of tic-tac-toe passing on a power play after Alex Ovechkin pushed Andrew MacDonald dangerously into the boards from behind (called a cross-check on the ice). Nielsen got the puck down low to Matt Moulson who whipped a hard pass across the crease where Parenteau was left alone for a one time goal that was in and out of the net before Vokoun even had a chance to move.
But the big story of the night was keeping Alex Ovechkin and Alex Semin off the scoreboard. According to the head to head even strength ice time charts, that honor mostly went to the Josh Bailey, Brian Rolston and Matt Martin line with Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic as the primary defenders. That forward line combination comes as a little bit of a shock, but what is further shocking is the Corsi sheet that says Alex Ovechkin was in fact one of the worst possession players on the ice tonight.
Great work third line.
An impressive win for a team on the tail end of back to back games against a rested conference favorite (poor start noted). The fact is, lately (excluding the Nashville debacle) the Islanders have played a strong set of games against some very tough opponents in Detroit, Philadelphia, and now the Capitals and by all metrics, have outplayed them with and without win/loss results. This is a team that needs to be on point, or they will lose…but when they are on point, they are playing some beautiful hockey.
They simply can not afford to come out like they did yesterday for their limited playoff chances, their psyche, and their relationship with their fan base. How many of you would trade a good draft pick to watch more nights like this?
Next up is @ Philadelphia on Thursday and a possible look at some retribution for Steve Staois’ unpenalized, no supplemental discipline, maybe it was an elbow if there was a better angle not from space, alleged “headshot” on Max Talbot.
Trevor Gillies and Micheal Haley have both been playing for Bridgeport, so we’ll see if there’s any lineup/roster changes. Jody Shelley played 9:02 tonight.