Islanders 4, Capitals 0 (2 EN): Isles advance to Conference Semifinals
The Islanders blew an early 2-0 lead against the Capitals in Game 4 when they had a chance to sweep them. In Game 5 they held a 2-0 lead from the midway point of the second period, courtesy of Anthony Beauvillier, and they weren’t about to blow it again.
Beauvillier had the only two goals of the game until Washington pulled Braden Holtby for an extra attacker. The Isles scored two empty net goals to seal the deal and Semyon Varlamov ended up pitching a shutout for good measure as New York eliminated Washington in five games.
First Period: A Conservative Lead
The Islanders did not completely play the way to which they’re accustomed in the first period, but they did their best to clog up all of the opportunities the Capitals could have had.
That being said, they converted their first power play of the game, something of a rarity for this team. :17 elapsed on the man advantage when Beauvillier put the puck past Braden Holtby.
Beauvillier held the puck and skated around on the wing before getting it across to Josh Bailey on the opposite wing. Bailey fed Brock Nelson in the bumper spot for a one-timer that was stopped by Holtby. But Holtby let loose a pretty powerful rebound that went right back out to Nelson. Nelson hit Beauvillier for the one-timer and it went in off of Carl Hagelin’s glove, though Holtby probably wasn’t getting over for it.
Second Period: Islanders Hockey with Some Insurance
The second period was a quintessential Islanders period. They were all over the puck and won most of the 50/50 battles without giving much room to Washington. There were a few scary moments, including Mathew Barzal appearing to be injured right before the goal described below.
The sweetness: Beauvillier added his second goal of the game and his sixth total in the bubble, which ties him for the postseason lead, on a beautiful play. But perhaps the sexiest work to set up the goal was by Bailey. Bailey picked up the puck after a battle in the defensive zone. He skated through the neutral zone and, as he crossed the Washington blue line, he tossed the puck off to a streaking Beauvillier.
As Beauvillier crossed across Holtby’s crease, he put the puck on his wicked backhand and put into the cage, flying through the air and taking a shitty hit from Tom Wilson into the post in the process. Beauvillier appeared a bit shook up right after the goal but both he and his buddy Barzal were back on the ice for their next shifts.
Third Period: Lockdown Mode
The Islanders knew they were only 20 minutes away from advancing. All they had to do was play their game, and they did.
The Capitals tried their hardest to get things going, but I can’t remember, off the top of my head, any second chances they had. Nor can I remember any close high-danger chances.
But I didn’t feel comfortable until Nick Leddy’s backhand from his own zone went into the empty net. Bailey added another empty-netter to really put it away, and the Islanders moved on. Light up the Empire State Building. What a beautiful view it is from my roof here in Crown Heights.
So we know the Isles are in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. As are the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins. As the playoffs are re-seeded every round (as they were for most of my childhood), the Islanders can only play the Flyers (if they eliminate the Canadiens) or the Bruins (if the Habs come back and knock out the Flyers). So, we wait for whomever we face. Either way, bring them on.