April 21, 2021

Washington Capitals Game 4 Recap: Backstrom scores in overtime, Caps tie series with Islanders

In a hair-raising, heart-attack-inducing third period and overtime, the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders stayed nip-and-tuck, with a roaring Nassau Coliseum crowd not even using the seats they paid good money for, and with good reason.

Those rows of fans, however, were quick to exit stage right when Nicklas Backstrom spoke up and delivered what will likely go down as one of the more memorable overtime goals in recent Washington Capitals history, leading the Caps to a 2-1 win to even the series at two games apiece, with Game 5 coming up in Washington on Thursday.

Alex Ovechkin opened the scoring, and after a late first period Islander goal followed by more than 50 minutes of scoreless hockey, Backstrom’s wrister from the point with 8:51 left in the first (and only) extra session won the game for Washington.

The Caps struck first for the first time in the series, as John Carlson’s shot from right below the blue line got deflected on the way by Ovechkin at 13:05 of the first, but Washington did not get out of the period unscathed. Brooks Orpik took a skate to the face after a collision with Carlson late in the frame before sprinting down the tunnel to receive stitches. He returned to the game early in the second.

Scoreboard-wise, a poor Washington backcheck led to an opportunity for Casey Cizikas to pounce on a juicy rebound left by Braden Holtby and tie the game.

Neither team converted on the man-advantage opportunities given to them, including a stretch of five minutes or so in the second period where the Capitals were charged with three minor penalties — two to Tom Wilson (kneeing and charging) and one to Mike Green (delay of game).

The win was arguably the centerpiece of a historic night for sports in the nation’s capital. For the first time ever, the Capitals and Wizards won a playoff game on the same day. Those two victories, combined with the Nationals’ walk-off win over St. Louis, made for the rare DC sports trifecta.

CAPS NOTES

  • On balance, New York yet again outplayed Washington. They outshot the Caps 37-30 and created the better chances through physical play (outhitting the Capitals 50-38) and puck possession (20 takeaways).
  • For all the talk about volume and which team has louder fans, Isles fans created a maximum of 102 decibels over the night. Compare that to last Friday at Verizon Center, when the Phone Booth was vibrating at one point and got past 110 dB on the in-house meter. While Verizon holds more fans than Nassau Coliseum, the acoustics probably lean in favor of Uniondale in terms of how loud it actually feels. Regardless, both fanbases brought the noise over the past week.
  • The penalty kill shined again, killing off all four Islanders power plays. That’s their tenth successful kill in 10 attempts this postseason, and a big reason why there will be at least two more games left this season.
  • I’ve been a critic of Backstrom in recent years for his somewhat lackluster playoff performances in the past, but I’ll eat a jumbo slice of humble pie this evening. With three goals in the last three games — and all of varying degrees of importance — as well as a league-leading (at press time) six points during these playoffs, he’s done his part in silencing critics of his that got on his back for not playing up-to-par in April and May.
  • The series is effectively a best-of-three with Washington holding home-ice advantage. Game 5 is on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in the District.
  • I’ll leave you tonight with this Backstrom quote about the kind of guy his goalie is.

About Eric Hobeck

Eric Hobeck is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins and Capitals. Eric contributes to high school sports coverage at InsideNova.com. He served as sports editor of The Rotunda at Longwood University for two years, where he was also the men’s basketball beat writer. He hosted a campus radio show for three years and called basketball and baseball games for the station’s award-winning sports team. You can follow Eric on Twitter @eric_hobeck.

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