Capitals

Washington explodes in the 2nd, and 3 other reasons the Caps won

Capitals

Down 3-0 in the first period, it looked like all the Capitals' absences had finally caught up with the team. Instead, Washington erupted for five goals in the second period leading to the shocking 6-3 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday.

In four games without Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov, the Caps have now earned seven out of a possible eight points. Washington was also missing Lars Eller on Thursday, but Washington would not be denied.

Here is how the Caps won.

The second period

Barry Trotz had strong words for his team after Tuesday's loss and the Islanders came out swinging on Thursday, taking a 3-0 lead in the first period. Well, considering all the players they were missing, Washington was due for a clunker, right?

The Caps had other ideas.

Washington exploded for five goals in the second period to completely turn the game on its head. The Caps scored three goals in a span of 2:04 midway through the second and added two more later in the period to take complete control.

The fact that the Caps were able to turn this one around in the middle frame was a surprise considering how much the team struggled in second periods this season. It was a troubling trend of the early season, but one the Caps certainly turned on its head on Thursday.

Conor Sheary

Sheary picked a good time to breakthrough. After earning one point in his first five games for the Caps, Sheary scored his first two goals in red in a span of just 1:13 in the second period to put Washington right back in the game.

 

A shot from John Carlson did not break through the traffic in front of the net and Sheary got to it in the high-slot and fired a shot as he turned on net to beat Semyon Varlamov. Less than two minutes later, Sheary redirected a shot from Zdeno Chara into the net for his second goal to make it 3-2.

No other options

After Sheary's second goal, Varlamov seemed rattled. Less than a minute after Sheary's second goal, Garnet Hathaway fired a shot from the faceoff circle that snuck between the blocker and the body of Varlamov and in. Adam Pelech may have gotten a piece of the puck, but from that distance Varlamov should have been able to stop that one. His team really needed a save in that moment and he could not deliver. He knew it too as he subtly shook his fist after giving up the goal.

New York's normal second goalie, Ilya Sorokin, was sent to the taxi squad leaving Cory Schneider as the backup for the game.

After the third goal, I would have replaced Varlamov, but I could understand giving him the benefit of the doubt that Pelech tipped the puck which fooled him on Hathaway's goal. But after the fourth and fifth goals, had Sorokin been on the bench I have to think he would have been in at some point. It became clear Trotz was not going to make the goalie switch.

To me, only one of those five goals was "soft," but when you get dented five times in one period, it's time for the backup to start warming up. But Trotz evidently did not seem to consider that to be an option.

Carlson's power-play goal

It wasn't just Varlamov who was shell-shocked. The Islanders were all sorts of befuddled after those three quick goals and that was evident when the Caps went to the power play.

Oliver Wahlstrom put Washington to the man advantage when he was called for hooking. At that point, the score was already 3-3. The Islanders really struggled on the penalty kill as the Caps were buzzing all over the ice. 

Varlamov got in front of an Oshie shot from the slot and Pelech had an easy clear, but he just completely missed the puck allowing Nicklas Backstrom to grab it and fire another shot. At that point, New York's penalty killers were basically standing and watching and the Caps were able to do whatever they wanted. Backstrom corralled the loose puck, gave it to Justin Schultz at the point and he fed it to Carlson for the one-timer and the goal. That goal would prove to be the game-winner.

It was more of the same later in the period as the Caps distributed the puck around the perimeter, the Islanders sat watching them until Zdeno Chara eventually called his own number and fired a blistering shot into the back of the net for his first goal as a Capital and the knockout punch of the game.

 

Tom Wilson would add an empty-netter in the third period.

Tune in to NBC Sports Washington on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET for full coverage of the Capitals' next game against the Boston Bruins.