The Washington Capitals will remain in the NHL bubble for at least two more nights after defeating the New York Islanders 3-2 on Tuesday to force Game 5 in the Eastern Conference first round.
Washington battled back after giving up two goals in the first 10 minutes of the first period, outscoring the Isles 3-0 over the final two frames. Only four NHL teams have ever come back after falling into a 3-0 series deficit (1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders, 2010 Philadelphia Flyers, 2014 Los Angeles Kings). The Capitals are looking to become the fifth team and avenge a first-round loss in 2019.
Tuesday marked just the second loss for the Islanders inside the bubble. New York previously fell to the Florida Panthers in Game 3 of the qualifying round.
Alex Ovechkin, LW, Washington Capitals: 2 goals, 4 SOG, 3 hits, 2 blocks
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Washington Capitals: 1 goal, 1 assist
Mathew Barzal, C, New York Islanders: 1 goal, 4 SOG, 4 PIM
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, New York Islanders: 1 goal, 5 SOG, 2 PIM
Ovechkin to the Rescue
Who else would it be?
Of course the Washington captain tied the game in the second quarter. Of course it was on the power play. Of course it came from the left face-off circle.
That's the beauty of his game. Even when opponents know what's coming, they still can't stop it.
Ovechkin has been setting the tone on every shift both with his physicality and playmaking since he broke into the league. Now in Year 15, he's still finding ways to shock his teammates into action.
The 34-year-old netted the equalizer—his third goal of the postseason—at 5:29 of the second period, and it was all Washington the rest of the way.
Then 3:40 into the third period, Ovechkin took a turnover in his own end, turned it into a two-on-two and fired high on Semyon Varlamov for his fourth goal of the series.
Isles Blow Early Lead
Give credit to the Capitals. It didn't look like they had enough left to pull off a two-goal comeback.
You can also fault New York for squandering multiple opportunities to knock Washington out early in Game 4.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mathew Barzal scored seven minutes apart in the first period, but the Islanders offense went silent almost immediately after.
New York was out-shot 15-7 in the second period and 29-26 overall as the club looked more concerned with protecting its lead than adding to it. The Islanders wasted five power-play opportunities on the night.
Now, Game 5 awaits.
The Caps and Isles will face off in Game 5 on Thursday, with the time of puck-drop still to be announced.