Mathew Barzal's OT Goal Gives Islanders Commanding 3-0 Series Lead vs. CapitalsAugust 16, 2020
The Washington Capitals' title chase is on life support.
Mathew Barzal netted a goal 4:28 into overtime Sunday, giving the New York Islanders a 2-1 win over the Capitals and a commanding 3-0 series lead.
Braden Holtby did all he could for the reeling Caps, stopping 32 shots to hold the Islanders in check. Washington's attack never got going, though. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored on the power play in the second period for Washington, but the Caps sent only 23 shots on goal Semyon Varlamov's way.
C Mathew Barzal: 1 goal
G Semyon Varlamov: 22 saves
LW Anders Lee: 1 goal
G Braden Holtby: 32 saves
C Evgeny Kuznetsov: 1 goal
LW Alex Ovechkin: 1 assist
Islanders Hope History Doesn't Repeat Itself In Round 2 (Assuming They Get There)
Stop me if this sounds familiar: The Islanders sweep an early playoff opponent with a recent history of Stanley Cup success.
Yes, that exact thing did happen one year ago in Round 1. The Islanders went on to get swept out of the playoffs one round later by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Lo and behold, the Hurricanes could await them in Round 2 again if Carolina beats the Boston Bruins in their Eastern Conference Final rematch. Boston holds a 2-1 series lead.
Regardless, the Islanders will likely get a chance to exorcise the demons of that embarrassment and erase all the memories of their inconsistent regular season if they can keep this momentum going and make a trip to the conference final.
At Least Capitals Fans Will Always Have 2018
A year ago, the Capitals crushed their fans by losing in the first round of their title defense. Equipped with a team that should, on paper, make at least the conference final, the Caps are one win away from disappointing once again.
Not that this is a surprise. One of the reasons Washington went so wild for the Capitals' Stanley Cup run in 2018 was the franchise's history of choking in the postseason.
Since 2007-08, Washington has won its division 10 times. The team has gotten past the second round of the playoffs just once.
While there were mitigating circumstances in some years, it's more than a little ironic to see Barry Trotz on the opposing bench leading the upset charge. Had the Capitals not undone the goodwill of their championship by allowing Trotz to walk in 2018, maybe they wouldn't be facing first-round elimination for the second straight season.
Now Trotz is on the precipice of getting the last laugh.