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The Caps gave up a late lead in regulation, but Braden Holtby stood tall in the shootout to give the Caps a much-needed win over the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Islanders in a surprisingly button-downed game between two teams that can make defenses pay.
- Plus: Team defense (for two periods). The Islanders came into the game with the second highest shots-per game (33.7) but were held to just 13 shots over the first 40 minutes
- Minus: Sitting back late. The Islanders recorded 18 shots in the third period, seven of them in the last 5:34 after Eric Fehr gave the Caps a 2-1 lead, including the game-tying goal.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on this afternoon's game:
- Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen's goal in the first period was his first even strength goal with the Caps, ending a drought of 1,119:48 in even strength ice time without a goal in the red jersey.
- Having secondary scoring is key to consistent winning, but through the first two periods the second and third lines combined for three shots on goal (Troy Brouwer, Marcus Johansson, and Brooks Laich with one apiece).
- Alex Ovechkin went the first 24:56 with one shot attempt (blocked). He had ten attempts (three on goal) in the last 40:04 of regulation and overtime.
- Tom Wilson had been relatively dormant with respect to fisticuffs in the 2015 portion of the season with just one fight over his first 19 games of the calendar year. He did reacquaint himself with the pugilistic arts in the third period against Matt Martin, perhaps some Islander retribution for Wilson's nudge of John Tavares earlier in the game that sent the Islander sprawling into the end boards.
- Taking advantage of the Islanders playing their backup goaltender might have been on Caps' fans minds when coach Jack Capuano decided on Chad Johnson to start, but the Caps managed just four shots on goal in the first period, allowing Johnson to get a measure of confidence.
- Andre Burakovsky is not going to lead the Caps in shots often, but he did in this game, recording four shots on seven attempts. He has a really sneaky release of his wrist shot from the right wing circle that could be a big weapon down the stretch.
- Give Eric Fehr credit. He had been held in check all game without a shot on goal from the middle of the third line, but he took a nifty pass from Brooks Laich and wristed it over Johnson's glove for what looked at the time like the game-winning goal.
- About time that the Caps nudged a winning streak past three games. This was the seventh time that the Caps took a three-game winning streak into a contest and the first time this season they made it four in a row.
- Marcus Johansson was in the midst of one of his stretches of not looking at the net, recording only one shot on goal (his only attempt) over the first two periods from the second line. He did have two more shots on goal in the final period of regulation, his three shots on goal for the game the most he has had in five games. He has not had more than three shots on goal since December 11th, a string of 32 games and counting.
- Every game has an unsung hero, and for the Caps it might have been Brooks Orpik in this one. John Tavares was held to one shot on goal for the Islanders (though he did have two assists). Orpik might have had something to do with that.