Islanders squander early lead, play uncharacteristically, drop Game 4 to Capitals

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Washington Capitals at New York Islanders
Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) skates against New York Islanders defenseman Adam Pelech (3) as goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) defends the net in the first period in game four of the first round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Two goals from Alexander Ovechkin — including a third-period winner — saw the Washington Capitals overcome a 2-0 first-period deficit and stave off elimination to defeat the New York Islanders 3-2 in Game 4 on Tuesday night.

Early tallies from Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mathew Barzal were canceled out when the Islanders — including their second goal scorer on the night — got away from their composed game, allowing the Capitals back into the game by taking uncharacteristic penalties.

A fast start had been stressed over the last two games of the series, and the Islanders heeded to Barry Trotz’s desires, jumping out front within the first five minutes.

The tone was set by the second line of Anthony Beauvillier, Brock Nelson, and Josh Bailey, who immediately established pressure in the Capitals’ zone upon the opening faceoff and drew a penalty after Nelson was tripped by Brenden Dillon.

While they didn’t score on the power play — which was 1-for-15 during the series up to that point — the Islanders fed off that momentum. Just 3:50 into the game, Pageau deflected a wrister from the right point by Scott Mayfield down through Holtby for the New York lead.

Less than six minutes later, Barzal doubled the Islanders’ lead when he poked a pass from Nick Leddy on the rush under the armpit of Holtby, who looked despondent after it trickled past him.

With desperation already well established within their heads, the Capitals called a timeout in an attempt to regroup.

They did, but the Capitals didn’t start getting results until the second period, and with plenty of help from the Islanders.

A parade of penalties, including two from Barzal, opened the door for Washington. Evgeny Kuznetsov grabbed his second goal in as many games just 3:35 into frame. Less than two minutes later, Ovechkin tied things up on the man-advantage derived from Barzal’s second penalty of the period.

Ovechkin provided the game-winner early in the third period when he came down the left-wing on a 2-on-1 break.

Instead of putting pressure on the legendary goal-scorer, Devon Toews opted to play the pass, giving Ovechkin ample time to snipe one past Varlamov just 3:40 into the period.

The Islanders were simply outworked for a majority of the third period as their chances came few and far between — a hesitant offense posing no threat to Holtby’s goal in the final minutes. It further stresses the ineptitude of their power play, which went 0-for-5 on the night and is now 1-for-19 this series. 

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