The New York Islanders deviated from their normal lineup on Thursday night against the Washington Capitals. Partially out of desire and partially out of necessity.
Ross Johnston made his postseason debut and Michael Dal Colle appeared in his second career playoff game. Out were Derick Brassard, a healthy scratch and Cal Clutterbuck, who was unfit to play.
The Islanders coach had indicated the day before that some changes could be coming, but the absence of Clutterbuck came as a bit of a surprise.
“I found out this morning with Cal,” Trotz said. “Cal did skate and then after the skate he said, ‘for me to play the game that I need to play I think I’m just not quite there. We had a plan going into it just in case.”
Trotz described the decision to scratch Brassard as the Islanders bench boss wanting to get a little more weight and grind in the Islanders game.
“I just felt it was going to be a different style of game,” Barry Trotz said. “I felt last game that some of our guys got liberties taken on us and we needed to spend some time in their own zone.”
Johnston had 10:02 of ice time in Game 5, while Dale Colle put up 9:22 in the series-clinching win. Dal Colle and Johnston found themselves lining up Jean-Gabriel Pageauon the third line, while Leo Komarov was moved along Casey Cizikas And Matt Martin.
Johnston appeared in his first postseason game on Thursday. Dal Colle was in just his second.
“Both those guys coming in I thought did an excellent job,” Trotz said. “They were hard on pucks. They gave added some weight to us. They gave us some live legs. They gave us a different look and allowed us to put Leo with Casey and Marty, and take a little bit more of a four-line approach.”
After the New York Islanders capitalized for their second power-play goal in 20 chances, they got called for a phantom too many men on the ice penalty. A replay of the line change very clearly showed that no infraction occurred, but the Islanders were booked for it nonetheless.
The moment had all the makings of a possible momentum killer, but the Islanders rose to the occasion to kill off the penalty and maintain the 1-0 lead. It was just one of two chances that the Capitals had on the power play.
“Leo had a big block on an (Alex Ovechkin) one-timer and Varly made some saves,” Casey Cizikas said. “Our D did a great job of getting pucks down and boxing guys out. They had a lethal power play. They’ve been successful all series, so that was definitely a big kill for us.”
The Empire State Building was lit in New York Islanders orange and Blue on Thursday night to celebrate the Islander First Round victory over the Washington Capitals.
It was the third time this that the iconic New York City landmark has been lit up in the Islanders colors. The Empire State Building celebrated the NHL restart by doing so and did it again after the Islanders eliminated the Florida Panthers in the Qualifying Round.
📷: mattpugs/IG pic.twitter.com/TPRwp43LZY
— Empire State Building (@EmpireStateBldg) August 21, 2020
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