The Capitals were held scoreless through 40 minutes on Friday, but scored three times in the third period for a big 3-1 win over the New York Islanders.
The win pulls Washington even with the Islanders in the standings for first place in the Metropolitan Division with 81 points. New York does still have a game in hand, however.
Here are four reasons the Caps won their biggest game of the season.
The Caps were trailing for the majority of this game, but they put on a dominant performance. Washington had possession for much of the game, held the puck in the offensive zone and just grinded the Islanders down into submission. The fourth line in particular really hemmed New York in their own zone, allowing the Caps to change up and get their top lines on the ice against a tired defense.
Washington limited the Islanders to only 21 shots on goal, including just four in the second period. New York had a strong defensive performance as they blocked 25 of the Caps’ shots, but Washington continued to maintain possession and wore New York down. Much of the Islanders’ offense came off bad turnovers leading to odd-man rushes. For the game, the Caps finished with a dominant Corsi-for percentage of 68.42-percent showing you just how much Washington controlled play.
Vrana parked in front
Tomas Greiss shut the Caps out the last time these two teams played in Washington on Jan. 18. He also shutout the Caps the first two periods on Friday as well. If Washington was going to beat Greiss, it was going to have to be a dirty one.
Jakub Vrana was interviewed during the intermission on the NBC Sports Washington broadcast and said, “We gonna go hard to the net and stay there.” That’s exactly what Vrana did.
Vrana parked in front of the net and got locked into a battle with Nick Leddy, but he would not give up his position and get boxed out. Michal Kempny looked for Nicklas Backstrom with the pass through the crease, but it was blocked and went right to Vrana. He shot it into the net before Greiss could recover to tie the game at 1.
Cashing in on the power play
Washington did not get a power play until the third period, but when they did they made it count. Anders Lee was called for interference less than a minute after Vrana’s game-tying goal. Ovechkin scored the power play tally to give the Caps the 2-1 lead with his 45th goal of the season.
It was not a typical Ovechkin power play tally. Greiss made the initial save but could not control the rebound and tried to chip it away from danger with his stick. Ovechkin batted the puck out of midair up and over Greiss into the net.
An own goal
Trailing 2-1 late in the third, Barry Trotz pulled Greiss for the extra attacker. The only problem was Josh Bailey did not seem to realize that.
T.J. Oshie cleared the puck out of the zone, Bailey got it at his own blue line and passed the puck back…to no one. With Greiss out, the puck went straight into the net for the easiest goal Oshie has ever scored in his career.
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