Just call them the never say die-landers.
The Islanders scored four goals to rally from a 2-0 deficit and defeat the Washington Capitals 4-2 in Game 1 of their First Round series. It was Josh Bailey’s shorthanded goal 6:52 into the third period that served as the game-winner and gave the Islanders their first lead of the afternoon.
Braden Holtby had the puck taken off of his stick by Brock Nelson, who was able to feed Bailey for the open look.
“He ended up playing (the puck) and I just wanted to put a little bit of pressure on him,” Nelson said. “Found a loose puck and then Bails just coming right down the slot. He’s wide open and good finish.”
It was the second consecutive year that Bailey has played the hero in Game 1 of a playoff contest. Last year, Bailey scored the game-winning goal in overtime in the opening game of the Islanders First Round series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bailey again found his name on the score sheet when he set up Anthony Beauvillier for a goal at 11:52 to make it 4-2.
“I think we just stayed even-keeled,” Lee said about the third-period effort. “Settled down a little bit. I think the first two periods we were a pretty emotional group on the bench. It was a back and forth game and we were down two at one point. Just crawling our way back carried us and we played a pretty smart finishing period.”
The comeback win wiped away a lackluster effort through the first 40 minutes of the game, which saw the Isles take six penalties over a 36-minute span. They had mustered just two shots on goal in the first period and were outshot 16-13 through the first two periods.
Wednesday’s Game 1 marked a physical start to the series between the Isles and Caps. The two teams jostled and played hardnosed hockey to start the game in the first. Not even three minutes into the game a scrap had broken out after Anders Lee caught Nicklas Backstrom awkwardly.
Later Lee dropped the gloves with Tom Wilson.
“You just have to keep your composure. It’s going to be a physical series,” Lee said after the game. “They’re going to egg you around and we’re going to respond the same way. You have to be smart about it. Know when to take one and know when to lay off a little bit.”
T.J. Oshie scored the first of his two power-play goals just over five minutes into the second period. The Capitals forward was the recipient of a lucky bounce off the backboards off a shot from Evgeny Kuznetsov.
The shot hit off the skate of an Islanders defender and went right to Oshie for the goal.
Oshie extended the Capitals lead at the 11:18 mark on the second. During a scramble in front, Oshie was able to jam the puck through the pads of Varlamov for the power-play tally.
The Islanders managed to find the back of the net with 1:03 left in the second to pull themselves back into the game. Eberle scored from the high slot after taking the pass from Mat Barzal to cut the Capitals lead to 2-1.
Anders Lee tied the game 51 seconds into the third period off a rebound goal in front of the net. Ryan Pulock sent a blast from the point that Holtby stopped, but Lee was there for the putback to make it a 2-2 game.