NEW YORK -- Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the New York Islanders in their first visit to Barclays Center on Thursday night:
How it happened: Jason Chimera and Alex Ovechkin scored goals on two of the Capitals’ first 10 shots on Jaro Halak and that was enough for Braden Holtby, whose only blemish was a second-period goal by Brock Nelson. Nate Schmidt gave the Caps some breathing room with his second goal of the season late in the second period and Nicklas Backstrom finished it off with an empty netter to give the Caps their second straight win.
What it means: The Caps are now 2-0 following their 0-1-1 slide and moved 14 points ahead of the second-place Islanders in the Metropolitan Division. They now have a league-best goal differential of plsu-41.
Hat trick from 500: Alex Ovechkin can thank a new stick and some quick work by the Capitals bench for his 497th career goal. Moments before his goal, Ovechkin broke his stick near the Caps bench and was immediately handed a new one, allowing him to join Karl Alzner on a rush up the right side. Alzner dropped a pass for Ovechkin and he snapped it from the right circle through the pads of Jaro Halak for a 2-0 lead. Ovechkin was on the ice when Jack Capuano pulled Halak in the third period and his check on Travis Hamonic helped set up Backstrom’s goal.
Ho-hum Holtby: Braden Holtby stopped 34 of 35 shots to earn his league-best 25th win (25-4-2) and improve to 18-0-2 in his last 20 decisions.
Lockdown: The Caps improved to an NHL-best 21-0-1 when leading after two periods.
Chimmer time: Jason Chimera’s first-period goal was his 12th of the season and puts him on pace for a career-high 24 this season.
Mojo hearing?: Caps center Marcus Johansson was called for an illegal check to the head 8:42 into the first period when he drove his shoulder into the face of Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey a split second after Hickey released the puck.
According the NHL Rule 48.1, an illegal check to the head is “a hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable.”
It will be interesting to see if Johansson, who has never been suspended, will face an NHL hearing for the hit. The Caps are already shorthanded at the forward position with Zach Sill suspended through Saturday’s game against the Rangers in New York.
Wilson 2 for yapping: Tom Wilson was sent to the sin bin 13:48 into the second period when he complained to referee Tim Peel for not making a call on Isles defenseman Nick Leddy for sticking him in the back while he was on the ice. Wilson got two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Caps killed off the penalty and seconds later Nate Schmidt hammered a drop pass from Nicklas Backstrom past Halak for a 3-1 lead.
Injury updates: Before the game Caps coach Barry Trotz said defenseman John Carlson, who missed his sixth straight game, will be back on the ice soon and is a “possibility” to play this weekend when the Caps visit the Rangers on Saturday afternoon and face the Senators at home on Sunday night. Trotz said Brooks Orpik (lower body) is also making progress and could resume skating soon after receiving favorable news by a Boston doctor earlier this week.
Look ahead: Mike Richards is scheduled to take part in his first practice with the Caps on Friday at Madison Square Garden. He is not likely to see game action for at least a few more days, unless the Caps deem otherwise.