The Caps went into Brooklyn and handed the New York Islanders a 4-1 loss Monday in their first matchup against former head coach Barry Trotz. Washington has now won six straight, their longest streak of the season.
Here are four reasons the Caps earned the victory:
Tom Wilson’s quick response
For the fifth time in six games, the Caps allowed the first goal of the game and it came just 36 seconds into the contest. The poor start was quickly erased, however, by Tom Wilson who scored just 2:14 later to tie the game back at one.
It wasn’t complicated. Wilson cut to the right for a pass from Nicklas Backstrom, entered the offensive zone with the puck and fired a shot on net from the faceoff dot that beat Thomas Greiss. It was a shot Greiss probably should have stopped, but that’s just the way things have gone for Wilson since he returned from suspension.
Wilson would add a second goal in the third period on the power play, playing in T.J. Oshie’s spot in the slot on the power play. Wilson now has a goal in four straight games and six points in those four. He has played in eight total games since his return and already has 11 points.
Matt Niskanen’s goal-line save
Early in the second period, the Islanders thought they had taken a 2-1 lead, but they were denied by a big save. No, it wasn’t Braden Holtby who denied New York the lead, but actually Matt Niskanen.
A shot from Ryan Pulock trickled through Holtby and into the crease. Niskanen was there first and attempted to hit the puck back under Holtby, but it bounced out and onto the goal line. Niskanen got his stick on it again and swept it off before it could cross completely, thus preserving the tie.
Nic Dowd’s backbreaker
The second period is typically Washington’s strongest, but things were not going well for the Caps in the middle frame to start. The Islanders had the near miss, but they also had the first eight shots on goal of the period. In fact, Washington did not register a shot on goal until 7:28 into the period. Thirty seconds later, however, Dowd scored the go-ahead goal and completely sucked the air out of New York.
Dmitrij Jaskin fed Dowd with a drop-pass, then tried to crash the net drawing the defenseman with him. With the puck and a little bit of room to work with, Dowd took aim and fired a wrister that beat Greiss glove-side high. The goal was Dowd’s second in as many games.
The Islanders were slowly taking control of the game in the second period and that made Dowd’s tally feel like a backbreaker. New York outshot Washington 10-3 and drew three penalties while not giving up any. And yet, when the clock struck zero on the middle frame, it was the Caps who headed to the locker room with the 2-1 lead.
The penalty kill
The penalties were a bit one-sided in this game in favor of the Islanders. Washington received two power plays but was booked three times in the second period alone and again once in the third. The Caps’ suddenly hot penalty kill came through again, however, with a perfect night to keep Washington in control of the narrow win.
Since Wilson returned from suspension, the Caps have killed off 24 out of 27 penalties, or 88.9-percent of the power plays they have faced.
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