Not long after the Islanders failed to convert on their first power play of the night, Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead over the Capitals and then Mat Barzal scored on a tip-in, also at five on five just before the midway point of the first period and the Islanders were off to a 2-0 lead as they tried to finish off a four-game sweep of their opening round playoff series.
Perhaps if the entire sixty minutes were played at five on five, the Islanders would be off to the second round. But the Isles’ inability to score with the mad advantage along with a second period meltdown led to a 3-2 Capitals victory in game four at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Capitals scored a pair of second period goals to tie the game at two and then Alex Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game early in the third and that was the game-winner. The Islanders will now take a 3-1 series lead into game five on Thursday with another chance to close it out.
A big reason why this series is still going on is that the Islanders went 0-5 on the power play in game four and are now just 1-19 in the series.
“We had a couple of chances but they didn’t really result in anything,” said Islanders Captain Anders Lee. “There were some close plays…a bounce here and there and that’s in the back of the net but that’s not enough. We gotta go back and look at this and reset a little bit and just be ready to have that opportunity in game five.”
While the Islanders didn’t cash in on the power play, it certainly looked like they were creating more chances with the man advantage. But at the end of the day, it was another power failure for the Islanders and it played a huge role in the Capitals keeping their season alive.
“We put it in play a lot,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “We had a couple of looks. We had the zone time but we need production out of it. Their penalty killers have held us pretty well off the scoresheet for the most part in this series. We’ve gotta find a way to find the back of the net on the power play but I thought our power play was better (in game four) than it was (in game three).”
Series Schedule (Islanders lead 3-1)
Game 1: Wednesday August 12th…Islanders 4 Capitals 2
Game 2: Friday August 14th…Islanders 5 Capitals 2
Game 3: Sunday August 16th…Islanders 2 Capitals 1 (OT)
Game 4: Tuesday August 18th…Capitals 3 Islanders 2
Game 5: Thursday August 20th…Islanders at Capitals…Time TBD
Game 6: Saturday August 22nd…Capitals at Islanders…TBD (If necessary)
Game 7: Sunday August 23rd…Islanders at Capitals…TBD (If necessary)
Trotz had indicated on Monday that the Islanders didn’t have a long practice but that they were “pointed in what we wanted” which likely meant they focused on the power play. After another night of frustration and lack of production, perhaps it will be back to the drawing board on Wednesday to see if the Islanders can get the power play cooking.
“We gotta find a way to put it in the back of the net,” said Barzal. “We knew coming into this series that special teams was probably going to be the deciding factor in some games. We just gotta make an adjustment. Their PK has done well with watching video and taking away our options so we gotta do the same and try to find a way to exploit it a bit.”
The Islanders had the Capitals on the ropes in game four but couldn’t deliver the knockout blow and they had more than their share of chances to send Washington to the canvas. They’ll have another chance on Thursday in game five, but they’ll need their power play to find the right combinations to punch their ticket to round two.