The New York Islanders held a 2-0 lead on the Washington Capitals at the Nassau Coliseum Saturday night, but they watched the Caps claw back for a 3-2 victory.
The turning point came when Caps’ Coach Bruce Boudreau called timeout at 5:35 of the second period with the Isles ahead 2-0.
“The timeout was the turning point of the game,” Washington forward Marcus Johansson explained.
Isles winger Kyle Okposo agreed. “As a team, we need to talk about that, when they call a timeout and not let that happen,” he said. “We got away from our game in the third period and gave them a couple chances and they capitalized.”
Okposo opened the scoring for the Isles at the 13:48 mark of a first period the Isles dominated. Okposo was on an odd man rush but used Frans Nielsen as a decoy, cut from the left wing to the slot and beat Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth high over his shoulder with a hard wrist shot. The Islanders outshot the Caps 14-5 in the first period and led 1-0.
Travis Hamonic made it 2-0 just 33 seconds into the second period when he intercepted a clearing pass just inside the Washington blue line and let go a one-timer that was deflected off a stick and went just under the cross bar to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead.
After the timeout, the Caps fought back and began chipping away at the lead. Brooks Laich made it 2-1 at the 9:44 mark of the second period on a goal that Isles goalie Al Montoya definitely wants back. Montoya took a bad angle on the play and the puck went through his pads.
The momentum of the game had changed but the Isles managed to hold on to a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Mike Knuble tied the game just 2:24 into the third period when he gained control of a rebound in the slot and backhanded past Montoya.
Alexander Semin put Washington ahead to stay 3:17 later when he converted the rebound of a shot by Alex Ovechkin.
“Well, you give them a little bit of life, and they can run away with it,” Montoya said. “They’re a skilled team. We had shut them down for the most part, and then you give them a little bit of life, and they came out firing. In the second they took the momentum over. Their goalie played well. We had our chances, and we were unable to put it away.”
It was a frustrating loss for the Isles who are now 0-2-1 in their last three games.
“We played well in the first period, and about 10 minutes of the second period,” Okposo added. “After that, we stopped playing our game, and gave them a couple of chances and they capitalized.”
The Isles and Caps will meet again Tuesday night in Washington.
Prior to the game the Isles put both backup goalie Nathan Lawson and forward Rob Schremp on waivers. Both dressed for the game. Teams have until Monday to put in a claim for either player.
The game was sold out with 16, 250 fans in attendance. It was the Islanders first sellout of the season.