The New York Islanders became the first team in the Eastern Conference to take a 2-0 series lead.
Brock Nelson scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and the Islanders defeated the Capitals 5-2 in Game 2 on Friday night. Nelson’s goal came less that minute after Alexander Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game to even the score at two in the second period.
Nelson forced a turnover at the blue line and broke free for a breakaway goal at 6:54 of the period. The goal was Nelson’s third of the postseason.
Cal Clutterbuck secured the win for the Islanders with an insurance goal with just over two minutes left to play in the third. Lee added an empty-net goal with 1:39 remaining in the contest.
“We played to our identity,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “Our group prides itself on playing a 60-minute game and longer if needed. The group gives you an honest effort night-in and night-out. They understand the importance of the end goal of winning a hockey game and how you’re going to go about doing it. They’ve got a really good belief.”
Despite the expectation that the Capitals would seek retribution for the hit Anders Lee laid on Nicklas Backstrom, Game 2 remained relatively calm. The Islanders and Capitals combined for just 23 penalty minutes through the 60-minute contest.
The Islanders stuck to their game plan of playing at even strength against the Capitals. They gave the Capitals just two chances on the power play and the Islanders converted on one of their five opportunities on the man advantage.
“I like our composure as a group,” Martin said. “That’s two games we haven’t gotten off to the best start. Once we started getting the puck behind them and playing to our identity, we started getting chances.”
Nick Leddy’s goal on the power play evened the score at one at 2:56 of the second period. Leddy took a pass from Josh Bailey at the point and the seeing eye shot beat Braden Holtby. The goal came just 18 seconds into the Islanders power play.
The game-tying goal came a period after the Capitals had taken the lead off an Ovechkin goal 56 seconds into the game. The Capitals star picked the puck up after it bounced off the end boards and then snuck it by Islanders starter Semyon Varlamov with a backhander.
Matt Martin gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 5:01 of the second after taking a centering feed from Scott Mayfield.
Ovechkin tied the game at two just over a minute later when he deflected a shot from the point in front of the net.
“Getting the one back right away to establish a lead (was big),” Nelson said. “We’ve all been there where it happens against us. It can be deflating. That was a big time and we were able to get some chances and some possession. There’s going to be little flows and changes in the game like that and we want to come out on top.”
Game 3 will take place on Sunday at noon.
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