The Capitals erupted on Thursday in a seven-goal effort in a dominant 7-3 win over the New York Islanders. Here are three reasons Washington got the win.
The start of the game was not ideal. Brock Nelson scored early and the Islanders were buzzing. When the Caps finally got going, their offense was buzzing as well as Lars Eller, T.J. Oshie and Dmitry Orlov all scored in the first period to give Washington the 3-2 lead. The offense didn’t stop there. In all, six Capitals scored in the seven-goal effort on the night. This game marks the first time this season Washington has scored seven goals. After scoring only three goals in three games on the California road trip, it was a good sign to see the offense making noise.
After giving up two goals in the first period, Grubauer shut the door the rest of the game allowing only one goal on 26 shots. The Islanders are a good offensive team, they can score if you want to go back and forth with them and trade punches. Grubauer made sure that didn’t happen as he allowed the Caps to extend their lead and pull away.
The penalty kill
Washington’s penalty kill was critical on the night and not just because the team killed all three penalties it faced on the night. Michal Kempny’s first period penalty was a bad call. Brock Nelson gave Philipp Grubauer a late slash after he covered the puck and Kempny went after him to protect his netminder. Instead of assessing matching minors, Kempny got the only penalty. Matt Niskanen’s second period penalty was a bad call. Jordan Eberle grabbed the back of Niskanen’s jersey and pulled it, forcing Niskanen to jerk his arm back. The referee evidently only saw Niskanen putting his arm up and called him for interference. Tom Wilson’s second period penalty...OK, he should have gotten a penalty for interference on Cal Clutterbuck. The referee evidently let hit go and called him for roughing as he chirped Clutterbuck afterward, but regardless, you can understand why a penalty was called. Here's the thing though, Clutterbuck should not have even been in the game at that point after spearing Wilson down low. He should have been ejected. Instead he got only two minutes and agitated Wilson, drawing the two-minute penalty. Bad penalties can be deflating for a team. Had the Caps allowed a goal on any of those three calls, it would have been extremely frustrating and could have swung momentum in the wrong direction.