Disastrous 3rd period dooms Ovechkin-less Caps originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
With Alex Ovechkin out, the Capitals gave up three goals in the third period as a 1-0 lead devolved into a 4-1 loss against the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
Here are some observations from the game.
On the night picked out to celebrate Ovechkin for all his accomplishments this season, the Great 8 did not play due to the upper-body injury he suffered Sunday in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ovechkin was present for his pregame ceremony, but he was on the ice in a suit rather than in his jersey and pads.
During the pregame show, Ovechkin was interviewed by NBC Sports Washington’s Al Koken and was asked about whether he would be ready for the playoffs.
“I feel pretty good,” Ovechkin said. “We’ll see. I’m not gonna say yes or no but right now we just make a decision to not play and we’ll see what’s gonna happen next game.”
An early wakeup call
Washington did not get off to a good start in this game at all and it looked like that was going to cost them on the scoreboard. Kyle Palmieri pulled a filthy deke on Nick Jensen that left Jensen sliding on the ice. Palmieri then took it on net for the goal, but goalie Ilya Samsonov immediately protested. Zach Parise had parked right next to Samsonov which did not allow Samsnoov to slide over to his right to defend the net. Head coach Peter Laviolette challenged the goal for goalie interference and won that challenge.
The Caps looked like a different team after the goal was overturned and scored soon after as Conor Sheary deflected in a shot to beat goalie Ilya Sorokin.
Coming up short
Ovechkin’s absence was obviously noticeable and in no aspect of the game that was more clear than on the power play. Washington went 0-for-4 on the night and gave up a key shorthanded goal in the third.
Samsonov stopped the puck behind the net for a handoff to Dmitry Orlov, but Casey Cizikas was there to pressure him and steal away the puck as Orlov tried to wheel around the net. Cizikas fell over onto the ice, but manages to chip the puck from his backside into the net before Samsonov could scramble back into the net.
Samsonov was there, but in his desperation overcommitted on the slide back into the crease drawing him back out of position and allowing the puck to get past him.
Samsonov gets the start
After two decent starts for Vitek Vanecek, it was Samsonov’s turn to audition for the team’s starting role in the playoffs. He made 22 saves on 26 shots and put together a decent two periods. In the third, things got away from him.
The first two goals that beat Samsonov were from a distance. Ryan Pulock scored in the first period taking advantage of a screen. Noah Dobson then put New York up 2-1 in the third period when he fired the puck wide of the net, but it deflected off of defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and into the net. Later in the third, there was the botched handoff with Orlov to make it 3-1. Anders Lee then made it 4-1 with a quick shot with less than five minutes remaining.
The last two games of the regular season are a back-to-back against the Islanders on Thursday and against the New York Rangers on Friday, both on the road. That likely means Samsonov will get one more start to impress Laviolette heading into the postseason.
The Pittsburgh Penguins lost to the Edmonton Oilers keeping Pittsburgh ahead by Washington by only a single point. The Caps still have a game in hand so they could still pass Pittsburgh for third place and a first round matchup with the New York Rangers. For now, Washington remains in the second wild card which would lock them into a series with the Florida Panthers.