Islanders respond to Alex Ovechkin’s challenge to lead 2-0 series

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Alex Ovechkin welcomed into the playoffs on Friday night, but the Islanders still took a 2-0 lead in the series.Barry Trotz’s crew held off a two-goal game from the dangerous Ovechkin, finding a quick response to his second strike and imposing their belated will to come away with a 5-2 victory at Scotiabank Arena.

Brock Nelson provided the winner, stealing a puck and scoring in a breakaway 15 seconds after Ovechkin tied 2-2 early in the second period. The Islanders completed the rest of the course and added two late goals to extend their lead in the first round, with game three scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

“Collecting the first one right away to establish a lead, we’ve all been there when it happens against us and it can be deflating so it was high time,” said Nelson.

Ovechkin was fortunate enough to score a hat trick midway through the third period on the power play, but with an open net to work, he pushed the shot wide.

Brock Nelson scores a goal over Braden Holtby in the second period of the Islanders' 5-2 win over the Capitals on Friday night.
Brock Nelson scores a goal over Braden Holtby in the second period of the Islanders’ 5-2 win over the Capitals on Friday night.AP

The Islanders took the missed opportunity and worked late on the front deck to pin the Capitals in their own zone and make their lives miserable. The third row of Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Derick Brassard and Leo Komarov played a big part in it, sucking the life of the Capitals’ return hopes before Cal Clutterbuck scored an insurance goal with 2:46 left and Anders Lee added a void. net for the final count.

“We were just trying to stay on top of them and not give them any leeway to come to us because of the talent they have,” Clutterbuck said. “We’re just trying to get past people, stay in the fight and stay aggressive.”

It was exactly the kind of style Trotz wanted to see from his team, playing on their identity.

“This is how you win,” Trotz said. “The guys are engaged in this effort. I really liked the third period. We didn’t back down, we stuck to our game and got the result we wanted.

Ovechkin had been held scoreless in the Capitals’ first four playoff games, but the time bomb finally pierced 56 seconds after Game 2. It was part of a slow start for the Islanders, who recorded just one only net shot through the first 10 minutes of the opening period.

However, they started playing their game after that and tied the game early in the second period on Nick Leddy’s power-play strike – the first of four goals in 3:58. The next came when Matt Martin slammed into the crease and landed a perfect pass from Scott Mayfield to give the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 5:01.

Ovechkin came back with a second goal on a redirect, but Nelson had the quick response 15 seconds later to put the Islanders in the lead for good.

“I loved our response after we tied her up,” Trotz said. “It was one of those momentum changes.”

Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves in the win, including three big ones in the first minute of the third period to keep the 3-2 lead intact. The Islanders took two big shots on goal after that, with the help of Ovechkin missing out on the sidelines, to secure their 2-0 lead in the series.

“As much as we can stay on top of them and play our game of grind, get a little bit of time and possession from the O zone, some jam in the neutral zone, it’s going to be frustrating for everyone, hopefully.” said Nelson. “Every game isn’t going to be perfect and you’re not going to take it all, so you want to try and take the majority of the game. [away] at the time. “

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