Alex Ovechkin's 2 Goals Not Enough as Islanders Beat Capitals to Take 2-0 Lead

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIAugust 15, 2020

Washington Capitals center Nic Dowd (26) collides into the boards next to New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Nick Wass/Associated Press

One of the Stanley Cup favorites this year is officially in trouble.

The Washington Capitals fell to the New York Islanders 5-2, giving the Isles a 2-0 series lead Friday.

After giving up four straight goals to New York in a 4-2 Game 1 loss, the Capitals' slump continued with the team allowing 32 shots on goal during Game 2 in what was technically a home game for Washington.

New York will now have home-ice advantage in Games 3 and 4—though all games are being played inside the NHL's Toronto bubble—meaning the club will get the home locker room and a chance to change their lines last and allow head coach Barry Trotz to get his preferred line matchups more frequently. 

Having lost four out of their last five games dating back to the round robin, concern may be growing on the Capitals bench.

           

Notable Performers

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Anders Lee, LW, New York Islanders: 1 goal, 2 SOG

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, New York Islanders: 2 assists, 4 hits, 74% faceoff percentage 

Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals: 2 goals, 6 SOG, 4 hits

Tom Wilson, RW, Washington Capitals: 1 assist, 2 PIM, 11 hits

Ovechkin Heats Up

Here comes Alex Ovechkin. 

After going without a point over his last four games, pressure was building on the Washington captain to get on the scoresheet any way he could. 

It took him less than a minute to do so in Game 2. 

The winger gathered a loose puck at the right faceoff dot, slid in on Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov and went forehand-backhand to tuck the puck in short-side only 56 seconds into the game. 

Washington needed just one shot on goal to grab the lead.

Whatever positive momentum New York had after Wednesday's victory ended there. When Ovechkin is able to score that easily on the opening shift, teams are going to have a tough time slowing him down.

That confidence boost continued into the second period, where Ovechkin netted his second goal of the game at 6:39 to even things at 2-2. It was the 67th postseason goal of the winger's career, moving him past Denis Savard and Joe Nieuwendyk into 20th place of all time and one goal behind Sidney Crosby and Gordie Howe. 

Every retired player ahead of Ovechkin on the all-time list is in the Hall of Fame, save for Claude Lemieux (80 goals), Jaromir Jagr (78) and Esa Tikkanen (72)—and Jagr should be inducted any day now. 

The return of Ovechkin's goal-scoring was one of the few bright spots Friday. Now it's on the captain and his teammates to prove it didn't show up too late to matter.

                  

Four Goals in Four Minutes

The second period opened up with an offensive explosion that saw two ties, two lead changes and four goals in four minutes. 

After putting a dozen shots on net in the first frame, the Islanders finally scored on the power play at 2:56 of the second period when Nick Leddy fired a slap shot from the point that zipped cleanly past Washington's Braden Holtby and into the back of the net.

The only power-play goal of the night knotted things at one. A failed clearing attempt by the Caps two minutes later gave New York the lead.

Washington center Lars Eller tried to fire the puck around the boards from behind his own net, but it was held in by the Isles' Scott Mayfield, who found Matt Martin behind the defense and all alone in front of the net for an easy tap-in. 

Ovechkin's equalizer came 98 seconds later to seemingly calm things down. 

Then the opposite happened. 

Only 15 seconds later, Brock Nelson grabbed the puck off Jakub Vrana's stick inside New York's blue line and skated down the ice all alone for a breakaway goal. It was one of the Caps' biggest mistakes of the night as Vrana tried to settle down the puck to get a shot off instead of making sure it got deep into the offensive zone. 

It would end up as the game-winning goal for New York.

If the Capitals aren't able to salvage the series, they can likely point to this sequence as the moment when the 2018 Stanley Cup Champions were doomed. 

     

What's Next

Washington and New York are set to face off again in Game 3 on Sunday, August 16, at 12 p.m. ET on USA Network.