Uniondale, NY – The New York Islanders (14-24-7) fell to the Washington Capitals (26-14-8) by the score of 2-1 in hockey action on Thursday night. The duo of Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom were enough on offense to lead the Capitals to victory, as New York has now lost nine of their last 10 meetings against Washington.
“Overall it wasn’t a bad effort, but it could be better,” head coach Jack Capuano said after the game. “WE need to come out stronger in our games. Consistency is going to be a key if you want to be successful in this league.”
Fans of the Islanders squad was able to see the return of winger Kyle Okposo, who missed the first 44 games of the season after tearing his labrum in his right shoulder. The winger looked strong on the ice, playing with the top line on the power play.
“Playing against guys like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom was a good test for me,” Okposo said after the game. “Those are two skilled guys on the ice and it felt good to get back out there and play against competition like that.”
“Okposo looked good out there,” Grabner said of his teammate after the game. “First game back he had a lot of shots, he got himself involved with the action and he looked really sharp on the ice.”
In spite of the fact that the Islanders were able to out shoot the Capitals by a tally of 11-9 in the first period of play. It was the visiting team that netted the first goal of the game, as at the 3:41 mark Jason Chimera (7) was able to tip-in a five foot shot to make the score 1-0. Chimera who was able to get the puck past the five hole of Islanders keeper Rick DiPietro, was set up by ‘the Great Eight’ himself Alexander Ovechkin (31) and Nicklas Backstrom (32).
Okposo had one of his best chances at the 12:28 mark as he attempted a snap shot at the 12:28 mark, but that shot just went wide of the Washington cage. In spite of good scoring opportunities by both teams the Capitals held on to their 1-0 lead at the end of the first period.
In the second period of play Washington would continue to press their offensive momentum as at the 3:38 mark ‘the Great Eight’ was on display for the second time. The Russian sniper got a strong pass from John Carlson (15), and then took the puck to the Islanders cage. Ovechkin (32) then passed the puck right in the mouth of the net to Nicklas Backstrom (12), who tallied an 11 foot backhanded shot for the 2-0 lead.
New York then tallied their first goal at the 5:15 mark when Michael Grabner (12) had a nifty forehand-to-backhanded move, the winger then tallied the eight foot backhanded goal, which was assisted by Josh Bailey (9) to make the score 2-1.
“It feels good to continue to contribute offensively,” Grabner said. “I have had a lot of chances these past couple of weeks. I am getting a little more confident with each game that I play.”
In front of 9,119 fans the Islanders started to find fire on the offense in the third period of play, attempting several good shots. At the 1:26 mark Matt Moulson had a nice 14 foot wrister that was saved by Capitals keeper Braden Holtby.
Those fans started to voice their displeasure, due the lack of offense on the power play opportunities. New York was 0-for-5 on the extra-man advantage, but could not get a goal past Holt. New York continued to try to press for that game-tying goal, but would just miss out on their opportunities. Sadly for the fans in attendance the Islanders could not cash in, as the Capitals would skate away with the 2-1 victory.
“The thing that I would like to see more from this team is net presence on offense,” said Capuano. “The elite goal scorers go right to the net and find ways to score. “
In the cage Rick DiPietro finished the night with 22 saves, while Braden Holtby finished with 24 saves.
The Islanders are headed on the road tonight as they will travel to Buffalo, N.Y. for a 7:30 p.m. face-off against the Sabres in a home-and-home series. The two teams will meet again on Sunday January 23, at 3:00 p.m.
“It is always nice to have a game a day after you lose,” Frans Nielsen said. “It allows for you to think about tomorrow and it makes you want to go out there and get the win.”
Notes: The Islanders have several unique events going on during their home game against the Capitals. First was their recycle night. As they partnered with Long Island Power Authority to allow fans who brought old electronic items to receive a voucher to the Thursday, February 17th game against the Boston Bruins.
New York also gave out ticket vouchers to those who brought in jackets for the Warm Coats & Warm Hearts Drive. This will be the first of two drives that the Islanders will hold, with the second of the two happening on Sunday, January 23, 2010.
The last unique event the team is holding will be the Fourth Annual Lighthouse Youth Hockey International Tournament. Pee-wee teams from China, Finland are to compete with tri-state area squads from Friday, January 21 through January 23, 2011.