April 21, 2021

Washington Capitals Game 6 Recap: Isles force Game 7 with 3-1 win

The Washington Capitals traveled to Long Island with the hopes of avoiding a Game 7 in this series. With an all-time record of 2-7, and 1-4 in the Ovechkin Era in the seventh game of a series, you couldn’t blame them. But the New York Islanders had different plans.

The Islanders fairly owned play much of the contest, and a late third-period flurry by the Caps couldn’t erase the previous 50 minutes of offensive futility as John Tavares and the Islanders force Game 7 with a 3-1 win before an insane crowd at the soon-to-be abandoned Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders struck first, which has been the case in five of the six games played in this series. Brooks Orpik attempted a check in the neutral zone along the boards, which took him our of position. Isles captain John Tavares collected the loose puck, which in turn became a two-on-one. John Carlson tried to play both men and Nick Backstrom was unable to get into position to help. Tavares then maneuvered into the slot and whipped a shot past Braden Holtby to put New York up 1-0.

The Caps got two power play chances in the waning moments of the first. The first was useless, but the Caps got several quality chances on the second, including an open look from Ovechkin in the slot and Marcus Johansson on the far post, but Jaroslav Halak was up to the task.

With 33 seconds left in the frame, Evgeny Kuznetzov carried the puck into the offensive zone and was met by a slash from Tavares, who was whistled for the Isles’ third penalty of the first 20 minutes. The Islanders cleared the zone on the faceoff, but a long outlet pass to Troy Brouwer resulted in a shot and long rebound. The puck ended back up with Carlson at the point, and his snap shot caromed off several bodies and underneath Halak to knot the game with just under five seconds before the horn.

It was the Caps’ second power play goal on 13 chances in the series.

The second period saw no scoring, but tons of body checks and continued ill will between the two teams. The Caps survived consecutive shaky saves by Braden Holtby on a couple of high shots which almost trickled in. Late in the frame, Alex Ovechkin lit up Cal Clutterbuck in front of the Caps bench, Matt Niskanen layed out Mikhail Grabovski, then as time was expiring Clutterbuck leveled Troy Brouwer trying to exit the defensive zone.

Midway through the third, the Caps got caught up in the hitting game and forgot to play defense. A scrum in front of the Islanders bench led to a breakout. Tavares carried the puck into the Caps zone and was turned away by Holtby. Karl Alzner and Ovechkin teed off on Tavares behind the net, but he played the puck to Nick Leddy along the boards, which drew Niskanen and Jason Chimera. That left Nikolay Kulemin alone in the slot, where Leddy found him. Kulemin got Holtby to commit, and he scored easily to make it 2-1.

The Caps looked to tie it up with 5:33 left, but Jay Beagle’s shot hit the crossbar flush and did not cross the goal line. Review confirmed no goal. Coach Barry Trotz pulled Holtby with a little more than a minute to play, but Cal Clutterbuck iced it with an empty net goal with 53 seconds to play.

After the final horn, bedlam ensued. A scrum on the ice turned nasty as fans threw bottles and other debris at the Caps players leaving the ice through the gate at the corner of the ice, since there’s no locker room access from the benches.

CAPS NOTES:

  • Alex Ovechkin had an assist on the power play goal, but had just three shots on goal, three blocked and two more misses.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson led the Caps with six shots on goal apiece.
  • Tom Wilson skated just seven shifts for 3:41 of ice time.
  • With all their injuries on the blue line, the Islanders dressed two defensemen (Matt Donovan, Scott Mayfield) who played in their first Stanley Cup playoff game.

Game 7 is Monday night, game time to be determined.

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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