Two goals from Anthony Beauvillier and resolute defense saw the New York Islanders eliminate the Washington Capitals with an emphatic 4-0 victory in Game 5 to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Beauvillier scored the first two Islanders goal of the night, which was enough to keep the Capitals at bay before two empty-netters in the game’s final minutes took all doubt out of the affair.
The 23-year-old winger became the third Islanders in franchise history to score two goals in series-clinching games twice in the same postseason, joining Bobby Nystrom (1980 semifinal and Stanley Cup Final) and Mike Bossy (1981 quarterfinal, semifinal; 1983 division semifinal, conference final).
He also is tied for the NHL postseason lead with six goals.
“It’s not really something you focus on,” Beauvillier said. “Just try to go out there and play your best and help your team to win. That’s kind of my main focus these last few weeks and it’s been working.”
It was more than enough for goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who pitched a shutout by turning away all 21 shots that he faced.
The Islanders’ much-maligned power play got them on the board — just their second man-advantage goal in 20 chances — a little over 10 minutes into the game when Beauvillier received the puck near the right circle off a pass from Brock Nelson with a wide-open net.
A simple wrister gave the young winger his fifth goal of the postseason, breaking a two-game pointless drought for his second linemates, Nelson and Josh Bailey.
He nabbed his second of the night 9:33 into the second period when he streaked down the left-wing behind the defense and was fed by a beautiful pass through a forest of legs by Bailey. Beauvillier proceeded to cut in front and skate across Holtby to lift a backhander over the Capitals’ goalie.
“It’s been a lot of fun to play with him,” Bailey said of Beauvillier. “He’s been a big leader for us. Scored some big goals for us… He’s doing a lot of things well, it’s been a lot of fun to play with him.”
While the Capitals’ incoming waves of desperation were expected to be intense, the Islanders’ organized defense remained as resolute as ever, keeping Washington to the outside while denying any serious scoring chances.
They allowed just seven shots in the final period while limiting Washington to just three 5-on-5 goals for the entire series.
” I think we did a great job as a team. It takes everyone… to limit a team like that’s offense,” Adam Pelech said. “We showed a ton of commitment and got some big-time saves from Varly which we needed.”
For Varlamov, he attributed his big night to that organized defense in front of him that made the influence of Alex Ovechkin a non-factor.
“I think we did a tremendous job tonight, the defense was solid in front of me,” he said. “They tried to block all the shots coming to the net. We didn’t give a lot of shots up from Ovi, that was big for us.”
With their net empty in the final minutes, Nick Leddy iced it with a 175-foot lofting backhander that rolled into the net — a well-deserved goal considering he is the NHL leader in plus/minus this postseason. Bailey added a fourth with 1:29 left near center ice to add the exclamation point.