The Capitals returned home in desperate need of two points and they earned them Thursday in a tense 4-3 win over the New York Islanders. The Islanders tied the game three times, but the Caps were still able to fend them off for the win. Here's how.
With the scored tied at 3 in the third period and all the momentum on the Islanders’ side, Eller delivered the game-winner with less than four minutes remaining in the game. To those watching, it came as no surprise that Eller would be the hero because he had been feeling it all game long. He finished with two goals and an assist in what may be his best performance in his time in Washington.
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Washington scored first
For the first time in eight games, the Capitals got the first goal of the game. In October, Washington had allowed the first goal an NHL-high nine times in 12 games. The Caps did not have to start the game chasing the other team and, in fact, never had to at all as they never trailed over the course of 60 minutes.
For the first time this season, the Caps were able to get a win despite getting zero points from Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie or Evgeny Kuznetsov. Taylor Chorney is now just the second defenseman on the team with a goal, Alex Chiasson got his first as a Cap and, led by Eller, the third line was something special.
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The third line
Eller wasn’t the only one who had a big night, it was the entire third line of Eller, Chandler Stephenson and Tom Wilson. The first goal was set up by a steal in the defensive zone by Eller that led to a 3-on-2 in the other direction. While they did not get a goal on the rush, Stephenson was able to find the trailing Chorney who had plenty of room to score after the Islanders skaters collapsed down low. Stephenson later found Eller with a nice pass to the slot which Eller finished off. Stephenson’s two assists were the first two assists of his NHL career. He now has three points in the four games he has played this season and is making a case for sticking around in Washington. The third line seems to have found some chemistry which is good news for a Capitals team that has been far too top-heavy offensively in the first month of the season.