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New York Islanders

Capital Punishment: Islanders Blow Two Goal Lead in Game 4 Loss

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Alex Ovechkin celebrates goal against New York Islanders

Alex Ovechkin crushed the New York Islanders dreams of a First Round series sweep of the Washington Capitals.

First, he tied the game at two with a power-play goal in the second period. Then he scored 3:40 into the third period to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead and the win to extend the series to a fifth game.

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“They played a good game, but I also think we didn’t play our best game,” Nick Leddy said. “We kind of gave them life at certain times in the game. They took that momentum and ran. You have to give them a little credit, but at the end of the day we know we have a lot better.”

Ovechkin’s game-winner came off a quick wrist shot from inside the faceoff circle. The Capitals star was able to take the puck up the ice after Brock Nelson whiffed on a shot in the Caps end and they were able to transition the other way.

It completed the comeback for the Capitals, who erased a two-goal deficit in the first 5:29 of the second period.

“We took penalties. Unnecessary penalties,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “That gave them some momentum. They got back on track and then it was a one-shot game after that.”

 

A dismal second period by the Islanders changed the course of the game in a matter of minutes. The Islanders had jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes, but the Capitals responded by throwing the New York Islanders off their game

The Capitals outshot the Islanders 15-7 in the middle 20 minutes and then held the Islanders to just a single shot for the first 14 minutes of the third. The Capitals finished the game with 29 shots.

The Islanders also failed to convert on five power-play chances on Tuesday night, once again highlight the importance of the special teams game this series. The Capitals converted on one of their five power-play chances, with four of them coming in the second period.

“They got a big one there with Ovi on their power play,” Mat Barzal said. “We had looks tonight. We had five, six power plays tonight and we have to find a way to one in the back of the net. We knew coming into this series special teams was probably going to be the deciding factor in some games. Not that it was tonight, but for them to get that second that was huge for them.”

Barzal added: “We just have to make an adjustment and their PK has done well of watching video, and taking away our options. We have to do the same.”

Evgeni Kuznetsov scored the Capitals first goal 3:35 into the second. Kuznetsov blew by the Islanders defense and snuck the puck by Semyon Varlamov while playing four on four.

The Capitals continued their push against the Islanders and tied the game at two just over two minutes later while on the power play. It was a signature Ovechkin power-play goal that did the job at the 5:29 mark of the second.

The Islanders took advantage of their quick start to the game,  putting their first goal of the game on the board 3:50 into the first period. Scott Mayfield flung the puck towards the net from the point and Jean-Gabriel Pageau deflected the puck out of the air for the goal.

The goal was Pageau’s first of the series against the Capitals and his third point (one goal, two assists) over the last three games.

Barzal extended the lead to two goals at the 9:16 mark of the first. The goal came off a give and go from Nick Leddy, who moved the puck back to Barzal and the 23-year-old winger put the puck past Braden Holtby.

Tuesday was the second consecutive game that Barzal has scored in and the forward has four points (two goals, two assists) over the last four games.

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New York Islanders

Coach Boychuk? Former Defenseman Helps Coaches During Islanders Practice

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Johnny Boychuk

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — There was a familiar face on the ice at Northwell Ice Center. Johnny Boychuk helped out the New York Islanders coaching staff during Saturday’s practice as the team prepared for Sunday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Boychuk ended his 13 year NHL career in November due to an eye injury and was placed on LTIR at the start of this season. Saturday was not Boychuk’s first time on the ice for practice, having worked with the taxi squad players and he had been on the ice at times during training camp.

Boychuk has been seen around the organization publically several times this week. On Monday, the MSG broadcast caught Boychuk sitting next to Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello in a suite at Nassau Coliseum.

His continued presence around the Islanders organization has been a welcomed one by the rest of the team.

“It’s great for us. We love Johnny,” Josh Bailey said after practice. “We’ll take him as much as we can get him. It would have been tough to just more or less go cold turkey and not see him. He’s been such a big part of our dressing room for a long time. To get to have him out on the ice with us and to see him on a daily basis has been really great.”

Additionally, Boychuk had been skating with Mathew Barzal while he and the team sorted out his new contract the first week of training camp.


Josh Bailey became the first Islander to deal head-on with a COVID-related issue this season.

The veteran forward missed a day of practice this week and was briefly on the COVID-protocol list before returning to the lineup the following day. Bailey, along with the rest of the team, has been adhering to the COVID protocols, but potentially came into contact with the virus after his youngest son’s teacher tested positive for COVID-19.

A few days later when Bailey went to check on his son he noticed that he sounded a little sick and had a bit of a cough, the Islanders forward said. They had him tested and it came back positive for the virus.

The result ended up being a false positive and Bailey’s son tested negative twice over the following two days.

“For a couple of days there it was touch and go, but at the same time it all worked out,” Bailey said.

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New York Islanders

BACK AT THE BARN: What It Was Like Being at an Empty Nassau Coliseum for a Game

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The New York Islanders home rink of Nassau Coliseum

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Prior to this week, the last time the New York Islanders had stepped foot on Nassau Coliseum ice was March 7, 2020. While it was only 10 months ago, in retrospect it seems like a lifetime ago.

COVID-19 had only just started to creep into the sports universe. What would transpire a week later wasn’t even imaginable at the time. So there was a sense of familiarity and brief normalcy when I walked into the Coliseum on Monday afternoon for the Islanders home opener against the Boston Bruins.

under normal circumstances, in January I am usually fully engulfed in the Islanders season. Weekends are planned around game and practice coverage, or that odd trip on the road with the Islanders. Instead, the first few months of the traditional hockey season were spent wondering if there would even be hockey games to cover at all.

To say I was looking forward to being at Monday’s game would be an understatement.

Nassau Coliseum exterior Walking into the Nassau Coliseum you were quickly reminded of the current state of the world. Signs about the need to wear a mask at all times inside the building were everywhere, as were Purell hand sanitizing stations. Security checked our temperature at the door and media members and staff entering had to fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire.

It’s a similar procedure for those of us that attend Islanders practices in person, so it had become a sort of second nature.

What was the most jarring thing on Monday was the quiet of the arena. Those of us covering games aren’t allowed into the Coliseum until an hour before game time, which would mean during normal times that the concourse would be bustling with fans and vendors selling overpriced beer and pretzels.

You would move at a snail’s pace trying to walk from the media gate to the press box elevators. Instead, it was a brisk walk onto the concourse and into the inner bowl where they have us set up to watch the games from. If there is any silver lining, then it’s the fact that we’re down a bit lower than where the Coliseum press box is, but I still enjoy watching from above to see how plays develop and get a different angle on the game.

The Islanders tried to keep the game presentation the same as they would if the building had been packed with fans. They blasted the music during warmups and during a stoppage of play — albeit at noticeably lower decibel than previously — pump-up videos were on the video board and goals and penalties were announced by the public address announcer.

Cardboard fans

And they pumped in crowd noise, which wasn’t all that bad and helped keep some figment of a normal game experience. When the Islanders faced the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the volume of the crowd noise did not go over so well, but Monday on Long Island, it was done just right.

In fact, on Thursday during the Islanders 4-1 win over New Jersey, the fake crowd noise was almost nonexistent.

To that end, what was the oddest part of the whole experience so far was the emptiness of the Nassau Coliseum. Sure, people have their jokes about how empty the building has been in years past when the team wasn’t doing well, but at its best, the Coliseum is one of the toughest places to play in the NHL

In large part due to the fans that inhabit it. Adjusting to the calm and quiet, except for the music and fake noise, was something that took time.

Through all of the oddities, it was good to be back in an NHL rink.

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New York Islanders

Barzal Dazzles, Drives Isles in Win Over New Jersey | NYHN+

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Mathew Barzal

If there were any concerns about Mathew Barzal’s game because of his late arrival to training camp, the 23-year-old has quickly dispelled them with his dominant play on Thursday night.

It was Barzal’s three points (1g, 2a) along with linemate Jordan Eberle’s two goals that pushed the Islanders to a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at Nassau Coliseum.

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