April 24, 2017

Washington Capitals Game 79 Recap: Holtby’s record chance has to wait as Isles top Caps in OT

OVECHKIN SCORES TWICE BUT THIRD PERIOD BREAKDOWNS LEAD TO LOSS

Braden Holtby entered play against the New York Islanders needing one win to tie Martin Brodeur’s all-time record for wins in a season for a goaltender with 48. He was spectacular at times, and was victimized by sloppy defense and a little casualness on his own part, and the Isles came from two goal down to beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 in overtime Tuesday at a disbelieving Verizon Center.

The Caps dominated early on, with several very good chances. Then, on an offensive-zone faceoff, Alex Ovechkin took matters into his own hands. He gathered the won faceoff, looped around a defensemen and let a wicked wrister go through a screen into about eight inches of open net past Christopher Gibson — making his second NHL start — for his 46th goal of the season.

It was Ovechkin’s third goal in his last four games and marks the eighth time the Great 8 has reached the 46-goal mark in his illustrious career. The Caps are now 34-2-2 this season when scoring first and 20-0-1 when leading after the first period.

The lead lasted until midway through the second period. After a sloppy turnover, John Tavares beat Holtby with a wrist shot that went in and out of Holtby’s catching glove.

The Caps broke that tie just 1:15 into the second period. Marcus Johansson and T.J. Oshie played give-and-go in the right wing faceoff circle, and Oshie’s snap shot bead Gibson stick-side for his 26th goal of the season. Oshie has scored in four of his last six games and his 26 goals this season are the most by a Caps player not named Alex Ovechkin since Alexander Semin scored 28 goals in the 2010-11 season.

The Caps upped it to 3-1 a few minutes later. Johansson came across the blueline with a burst of speed and the puck ended up with Oshie again, who made a sick move around an Islanders’ defender and fed Ovechkin alone on the right wing. Ovechkin buried it for his 47th of the year, a no-doubt-about-it shot.

The two-goal lead didn’t last long, though, with Kyle Okposo getting position at the top of the crease and banging home his 22nd goal of the season to make it 3-2.

Then, the unthinkable. On a fairly harmless entry pass, Anders Lee got just enough of the puck — after beating Dmitry Orlov for position — to flick it past Holtby to even it up mere moments later. Holtby made his biggest save of the night with 3:33 left. Lee broke in alone and rifled a shot glove-side but Holtby snagged it out of the air and held it up for all to see.

It then went to the extra session. The Caps had several golden chances, including a breakaway by Evgeny Kuzntesov, to no avail. Eventually, Tavares made a spectacular pass to Thomas Hickey, who beat a fallen Holtby for the game-winner.

NEXT GAME: Thursday against the Penguins at 7 p.m. at Verizon Center.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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