Then Cal Clutterbuck tipped Jean-Gabriel Pageau’s shot in front of Braden Holtby to break the Capitals’ will. It was the kind of streak that coach Barry Trotz beamed and was exposed on two years ago when he led Washington to the Stanley Cup.
Trotz is now on the other side, and his Islanders beat the Capitals 5-2 on Friday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first round series. New York played the structured and sultry style of the Trotz brand perfectly, from responding to a Capitals goal in the first minute to controlling the puck at the most important moment.
“This is how you win, and the guys are committed to that effort,” Trotz said. “We haven’t backed down. We stuck to our game and got the result we wanted. ”
With 86% of teams that win 2-0 in a best-of-seven series in NHL history went on to win it, Trotz is on track to beat the team that let him walk rather than to give it a raise after delivering the first title in franchise history. The Capitals instead promoted assistant Todd Reirden to head coach and haven’t won a playoff series since.
Trotz showed his worth behind the bench when the Islanders reached the second round last year and again in these playoffs. The Islanders won a physical first game full of penalties and handled a different style in Game 2 without looking scared.
“We’re just trying to play the way we know how to play,” Clutterbuck said. “It’s the strength of our team to come back to this game that is successful for us. They have a lot of different ways of playing, and they’re a great team. We’re trying to focus on ourselves here and do what we can. ”
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his first point of the NHL restart when he scored 56 seconds. He scored again in the second period to equalize and missed a second career playoff hat trick when he hit the side of the net on a bounty chance on the power play in the third.
“I just missed the net,” said Ovechkin.
Washington’s perfect 14-for-14 penalty finally allowed a goal when Nick Leddy scored a power-play goal in the second period. A turnover from Lars Eller led to a goal from Matt Martin before Ovechkin tied.
Then another Capitals mistake ended up in their net. Jakub Vrana spat the puck on the offensive blue line, pushing Nelson for his breakaway goal 15 seconds after Ovechkin’s goal. Vrana was benched for the final 13 minutes of the period, and he’s not the only Washington player struggling.
“We have adversity,” Reirden said. “We have to fight. It won’t happen easily, it will never happen, and we have to put in more work and make matches to give ourselves a chance to have some of our skills more present in the game. ”
Knowing Trotz’s experience and looking at the talented Capitals on the other side, the Islanders also know they won’t make it to the second round without a fight.
“It’s not easier from here,” Martin said. “They have a championship pedigree there. It’s going to get harder and harder from here on, so we have to be ready and we have to stay true to our game as much as possible and hopefully at the end of the game. day is enough. ”
NOTES: Islanders D Johnny Boychuk missed his fifth straight game with an undisclosed injury. … Backstrom was absent after starting the concussion protocol. … Ovechkin scored his 66th and 67th playoff goals to move into exclusive possession for No. 20 on the NHL career roster. … Eller came back after missing the last three games for the birth of his son.
The third match will take place on Sunday at noon.