The Washington Capitals showed their superior skill set by scoring several highlight reel goals in an easy 7-2 win over the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum Tuesday night. Alexander Semin led the way with two goals while Jason Chimera, Brendan Morrison and John Erskine each added a goal and an assist.
Remarkably, the Caps managed the seven goal outburst without points from either Alexander Ovechkin or Mike Green. Ovechkin had 10 shots on goal in the game but saw his nine-game point scoring streak ended.
“They are in a groove,” explained a very happy Capitals’ Coach Bruce Boudreau.
“A team, whether you are a first-place team or 30th, at some point of the
season things seem just seem to be working and clicking. Right now, they are
clicking for us. We had seven goals, and Ovie and Green didn’t get a point. It
shows you’ve got good balance.”
It didn’t take long for the Capitals to break on top. A shot by Erskine from the top of the left circle was redirected by Morrison and found its way behind Islander starter Dwayne Roloson just 1:05 into the game.
Washington continued to control the puck for long stretches of time and make beautiful passes in the game’s opening minutes. Semin’s first goal of the night was a pretty play which saw him beat a defender, make a fake and lift a wrist shot over the Roloson’s shoulder. The game was just 4:49 old and already the Capitals led 2-0.
The Islanders got back in the game with a power play goal by Rob Schremp at the 6:03 mark of the opening period. Doug Weight passed the puck to Schremp at the left circle and he lifted a hard, wicked shot which beat Jose Theodore high to the short side. It made the score 2-1 which was as close as close as the game was going to get.
The Capitals scored twice in the final two minutes of the opening period to put the game away. First Mike Knuble tallied a power play goal with 1:47 remaining. He took a pass from Tomas Fleischmann and then took three swipes at the puck in the slot area. The third one found its way past Roloson and the Caps were ahead 3-1.
Semin’s second goal of the game came with just 5.2 seconds left in the period and was a highlight reel score. He deked his way in front and redirected the puck from behind the goal line. It bounced off defenseman Bruno Gervais and into the net. That goal really took the air out of the Islanders heading into the first intermission.
After the first period, Isles’ Coach Scott Gordon decided to lift Roloson and bring in Rick DiPietro. Gordon explained it was not because he blamed Roloson for the four goals he allowed in the first period.
“Mentally, I didn’t want him (Roloson) to get beat up,” Gordon said. “The way they
were scoring, I just felt it was an opportunity to get Rick in there and not
have it all come down on (Roloson).”
The goaltending change had little effect on the flow of the game for the struggling Islanders. Erskine’s first goal of the season came just 2:36 into the second period. Eric Fehr made a great pass to Erskine who beat DiPietro with a shot that went between his pads to make it 5-1 Washington.
John Tavaras made a nice pass to Kyle Okposo who scored on a one-timer from the slot midway through the second period, but that was all the Isles could manage. A goal by Chimera with 6:02 left in the second period increased the Washington lead to 6-2 after 40 minutes.
The Caps removed Theodore after two periods due to lower body injury and replaced him with Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth stopped all 11 shots he faced in a third period that saw both teams play tentative hockey since the game had already been decided. Brooks Laich added the final goal at the 14:52 mark on another pretty play that saw him split the defense duo of Mark Streit and Bruno Gervais and lift the puck over DiPietro’s shoulder.
Weight was impressed by the Capitals’ performance and said they reminded him a bit of the Red Wings in the 90s. “They control the puck, they frustrate you and they have an unbelievable skill level,” Weight said. “We made a lot of errors and didn’t finish our checks and you saw what happened. Their skill level took over. It seemed they had the puck for 30-40 seconds at a time, making plays, making great moves.”
“It was just a bad game all around,” DiPietro added. “When we don’t play
our game, things like that happen.”
The Islanders look to bounce back when they begin a four-game road trip Thursday night against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh. The Capitals next game will be Wednesday night when they host the Anaheim Ducks.
Jeff Tambellini and Martin Biron were the Islanders’ scratches.
Andy Sutton returned to the Isles lineup after completing his two-game suspension for hitting Pascal Dupuis from behind.
Defenseman Jack Hillen left the game late in the first period after being hit in the face with a shot by Ovechkin. He was sent to the hospital and did not return. An update on his condition is expected on Wednesday.
Calvin de Haan, the Islanders second selection in the first round of this year’s Entry Draft will undergo shoulder surgery Thursday and is expected to be out of action for approximately six months.