Uniondale, NY – The New York Islanders (23-32-8) fell to the Washington Capitals (33-20-10) in NHL action on Saturday night. The Islanders came so close to a huge victory over the caps, but in the end the very talented Capitals squad came back to earn the victory.
“You can’t let up on a good team like the Capitals,” said winger Kyle Okposo after the game. “They are a very talented team and we let them off the hook tonight.”
In a fast paced, hard hitting game between the two teams the Islanders were able to do a great job on the Capitals in the first period of play limiting a very good offensive squad to only five shots after the first period of play. Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum was a buzz all night long as fans had the arena rocking early and often.
After a flurry of 14 shots on offense the Islanders were able to get their first goal of the game at the 13:48 mark as Kyle Okposo (3) was able to cash in on a pretty play. The winger used his patience along with a decoy by Frans Nielsen to record a 16 foot wrister, which was set up y Michael Grabner (12) and Andrew MacDonald (21) for the 1-0 Islander lead.
The Capitals had a couple of good chances as Jason Chimera had a 45 foot wrister which was denied by Islander keeper Al Montoya. Washington would have one last good shot at the 19:51 mark as Alexander Semin had a 26 foot wrister denied by Montoya. New York was able to hold on to their 1-0 lead as the horn sounded to end the first period of play, much to the delight of the very enthusiastic Islanders crowd.
New York continued their offensive momentum early in the second period as at the 0:33 mark, a turnover by John Carlson set the stage for Travis Hamonic. The young blue liner who was out briefly in the first period, due to a puck striking his face, got a measure of revenge on the plastic piece of rubber.
Hamonic (3) was able to put in a 58 foot knuckler past Capitals keeper Michael Neuvirth for the 2-0 Islanders lead. The physical intensity between the two squads finally boiled over at the 2:26 mark as Zenon Konopka dropped gloves and exchanged blows with Matt Hendricks. Konopka was able to get the better of Hendricks after some good shots were thrown by both players.
“I knew that was a big goal for the team at the time,” Hamonic said. “Sadly it wasn’t enough to get us the win tonight though”
Josh Bailey had a great 15 foot slap shot stoned by Neuvirth, as well as a 24 foot wrister by Blake Comeau as one could hear the moans and groans from the sellout crowd. The first ever sellout saw a scintillating shot from Frans Nielsen at the 5:35 mark as the center tried for a 56 foot slap shot. That sizzling shot would be quickly gloved by Neuvirth in what was a nice play by the Capitals keeper.
Washington then began taking over the game at the 9:44 mark as Brooks Laich (13) would record a 26 foot wrister, which was assisted by John Carlson (20). Laich was able to create space by using his body and then beat Islanders keeper Al Montoya, making the Islander lead 2-1.
“It was in that moment the Capitals were able to take over the momentum of the game,” Montoya would say of that moment. “I would like to have that one back that was a tough outcome for this team, who gave a great effort out there tonight.”
Montoya would keep his squad in the game at the 10:07 mark denying a 35 foot snap shot by Boyd Gordon. Michael Grabner would have a burst of speed at the 15:19 mark and try for a 29 foot wrister that just went wide of the net. This would prove to be the missed goal that would hurt the most for the Islanders, as the Capitals would continue their comeback.
Washington would tie the game up at 2-2 at the 2:24 mark of the third period as Mike Knuble (15) would backhand home a shot, off a sweet pass from Brooks Laich (21) and Marcus Johansson (9). The comeback by Capitals would finish the game up with their final goal at the 5:41 mark of that frame as Alexander Semin (22) would wrist home a 49 foot shot that was set up by Alex Ovechkin (39) for the eventual 3-2 victory.
Montoya would finish the night with 19 saves in the cage for the Islanders, while Neuvirth finished with 29 in the net for the Capitals. Montoya has been called to play the cage for quite a number of games for the Islanders and continues to be sharp making
“I feel good so far,” Montoya would say of how he felt thus far. “It is playing and going out there and being comfortable, and doing what you need to do to give the team a chance. At the same time you need to get wins, and that is something that I want to do for the guys right now.”
The Islanders will have some time off before the trading deadline and will look to get a measure of revenge in Washington, as they return back to action in a Tuesday night 7:00 p.m. face off.