Cam Cole: Capitals take turn, defeat Islanders in overtime

 

 
 
 
 
A shot by Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals floats over the right shoulder of Jaroslav Halak #41 of the New York Islanders as the Capitals defeat the Islanders 2-1 in overtime in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 21, 2015 in Uniondale, New York.
 

A shot by Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals floats over the right shoulder of Jaroslav Halak #41 of the New York Islanders as the Capitals defeat the Islanders 2-1 in overtime in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 21, 2015 in Uniondale, New York.

Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Sometimes you get the Bear, and sometimes …

John Tavares wins Game 3 for the New York Islanders at 15 seconds of overtime Sunday.

Two nights later, he loses the faceoff, loses his stick and watches Nicklas Backstrom skate away from him, turn, and rifle a long shot through traffic past Jaroslav Halak to give the Washington Capitals the winner at 11:09 of overtime in Game 4, tying the series 2-2.

Backstrom, goal-less through the final 21 games of the regular season, scores for the third time in the last three playoff games.

Alex Ovechkin, subject of much head-scratching after another road game without any impact (or any points) Sunday, scores the game’s opening goal --- the Islanders had scored first in all three previous games --- and makes a seismic hit, and assists on the game-winner Tuesday.

And Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy, justifiably feted and fawned over for their shutdown job on the Ovechkin line in Game 3, are on the ice for both Washington goals in this one.

It was, upon reflection, about the way these two games at ear-splitting Nassau Veterans’ Memorial Coliseum should have ended up: a split.

Two overtimes, one each way --- the fourth and fifth meetings between the teams to go to extra time this season --- and an almost, if not quite, random event ending each one.

Not that the Islanders are apt to see the fairness in it, when they had a chance to put a 3-1 clamp on the series on home ice.

On the bright side, the result guarantees another night of wistful bliss to be had by fans of the Islanders in their old barn, Saturday night.

Game 5 goes Thursday at Verizon Center.

The Caps really ought to have won it on a prettier play than the Hail Mary that Backstrom fired at the net.

Five minutes into the extra period, Marcus Johansson put a dangerous pass through the crease that somehow neither Evgeny Kuznetsov nor Jason Chimera was able to convert.

Shortly after, Johansson again sent Chimera away on a breakaway but Halak got a pad down to stop the shot.

Ovechkin, who had managed just a goal and two assists in his previous 12 road playoff games, remedied that deficiency 13 minutes into the game, almost in passing.

He was cruising the high slot when John Carlson’s routine, waist-high wrist shot sailed past him, and Ovechkin just reached out and casually flicked at the puck, redirecting it enough to fool a screened Halak.

The Islanders had the better of the play, and outshot Washington 13-10 in the period. But it wasn’t until the dying seconds that they managed to exploit a defensive lapse and score the equalizer; Washington goalie Braden Holtby kicking a weak shot by Cal Clutterbuck right onto Casey Cizikas’s stick with 12.6 seconds left on the clock.

The Caps, who had two first-period injuries in Game 3 and played Tuesday without centre Eric Fehr, lost defenceman

Brooks Orpik late in the first when what appeared be a bad skate cut to his hand or wrist sent him racing to the dressing room, trailing blood.

But he was back on the bench to start the second, a period devoid of scoring but not of interest. Caps forward Tom Wilson was penalized early for a fairly violent knee-on-knee hit of Josh Bailey and no sooner returned from the box than he took a healthy run at Isles defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky, and got a very lenient two for charging.

Visnovsky has now had the trifecta of brutal hits, taking a walloping in Game 3 from Troy Brouwer and the aforementioned thunderous hit earlier in Tuesday’s game from Ovechkin.

But despite a parade to the penalty box by the visitors – they took all four penalties in the second period --- the Islanders barely had a pulse on the power plays.

Lots of perimeter passing, lots of faked slapshots, scarcely anything resembling a scoring chance. It was a factor, if not THE factor, in their loss.

And as the teams skated off the ice, a beer thrown by a fan missed Orpik’s head by inches as he joined the Caps’ celebration. He flinched when it whizzed past his visor.

Stay classy, Uniondale. It’s not too late.

ccole@vancouversun.com

 
 
 
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A shot by Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals floats over the right shoulder of Jaroslav Halak #41 of the New York Islanders as the Capitals defeat the Islanders 2-1 in overtime in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 21, 2015 in Uniondale, New York.
 

A shot by Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals floats over the right shoulder of Jaroslav Halak #41 of the New York Islanders as the Capitals defeat the Islanders 2-1 in overtime in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on April 21, 2015 in Uniondale, New York.

Photograph by: Bruce Bennett, Getty Images

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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