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Capitals vs Islanders Game 1 Recap: Islanders Score Four Unanswered in 4-2 Win

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Caps strike first but only the Isles played a full 60 minutes, NY takes 1-0 series lead

New York Islanders v Washington Capitals - Game One Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

BAH GAWD THAT’S JOHN CARLSON’S MUSIC! That’s right, folks, after missing all three of Washington’s round-robin games, John Carlson was back in the lineup for the Capitals. He was a game-time decision as of yesterday, but the Capitals tweeted this dramatic video just before today’s delayed puck drop. Speaking of delayed puck drop, today’s game started an hour later than it was scheduled because today’s first Eastern Conference game between the Hurricanes and Bruins went into double overtime. Keeping up the chaos energy, clearly.

Alright Caps fans, this series is going to be a fun and feisty one. Capitals versus Islanders. Divisional rivals. Seven game series. Let’s go.

Here’s Wednesday afternoon’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: T.J. Oshie have yourself a Game™! Oshbabe notched two goals on two power plays, and also saved a goal in the second period with a glove save in the crease. John Carlson also made his return known, tallying two assists and hopping back on the top power play unit to run point.

Minus: Nicklas Backstrom did not return for the second period after taking a nasty hit from Anders Lee in the first. Fingers crossed he isn’t out long-term.

And now, please enjoy this footage of Richard Panik yeeting Anders Lee’s glove into oblivion:

Eleven more notes on the game:

1. The Capitals got an early power play after Anders Lee got called for interference on Nicklas Backstrom. Unfortunately, John Carlson also took a trip to the box after roughing Lee up in Backstrom’s defense so he was unavailable for the ensuing man advantage. Carlson and Lee’s roughing penalties cancelled out. The Caps’ PP had a few good chances but couldn’t manage to find the back of the net.

2. The good guys got another power play chance seven minutes into the game when Matt Martin went to the box for roughing Alex Ovechkin. They couldn’t convert on that PP but Scott Mayfield tripped Tom Wilson just as Martin’s penalty expired. Things were looking promising, but then Wilson was called for interference with 39 seconds left on the Caps’ power play. Halfway through the first and the Caps’ power play is 0-for-3? Not ideal, folks. Wilson’s penalty was also the eighth minor in just 11 minutes of this hockey game - I’m exhausted already.

3. This game was feisty, so it was only a matter of time before we saw an actual fight. Clearly the earlier scuffle with Carlson wasn’t enough retribution for his earlier interference on Backstrom, so Anders Lee had to answer to Tom Wilson. Lee was on the ice for approximately two seconds before they dropped the gloves, and I think it’s fair to say that there was a...decisive winner in this matchup.

4. Bad news for Washington: Nicklas Backstrom did not return to the Capitals’ bench to start the second period. Even worse news: the Caps announced just over halfway through the second that Backstrom would not return. With Lars Eller unavailable today after returning from DC, the Caps are down two of their top three centers - not ideal.

5. Caps power play take four! Matt Martin took an interference penalty on Carl Hagelin just over four minutes into the second, and this time Washington did not waste the opportunity. T.J. Oshie corralled an Evgeny Kuznetsov rebound and flipped the puck past Semyon Varlamov from a severe angle for his 21st playoff goal. That ties Dino Ciccarelli for sixth-most in franchise history. Who else had an excellent power play shift? None other than John Carlson, back at the point where he belongs.

6. Garnet Hathaway was called for interference on Brock Nelson with 11:18 left in the second, so the Islanders’ power play got their second opportunity of the afternoon. They got one or two good chances, but Jordan Eberle negated his team’s man advantage by hooking Oshie in front of the Caps’ net. Cue 24 seconds of four-on-four hockey, and then another Caps’ power play. Noted hero T.J. Oshie said “thank you very much!” and tallied his second power play goal of the day after fighting hard in front of Varlamov and forcing the puck over the line. Alexa, play “Country Roads”!

7. With four minutes left in the second, the Islanders took a too many men penalty and gave Washington their sixth power play of the game. Shockingly, it was actually the Islanders who had the best chance during those two minutes. Thankfully, Oshie was in the crease to make the save. Is it too late to nominate him for the Vezina Trophy?

8. The Islanders finally got one back with a minute to go in the second period with a Jordan Eberle tally off a rush down the ice. This was a...rough look for Braden Holtby, y’all.

9. Less than one minute into the third, Anders Lee tied things up for the Isles when he snagged a bouncing rebound in front of Holtby. This one was a rough look for Michal Kempny, who basically watched his man score. That’s two Islanders goals in 1:54 of play, woof.

10. Ilya Kovalchuk was hi-sticked by Leo Komarov with 14 minutes to go and...Josh Bailey gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead with a shorthanded goal. A bad and overly-casual exchange between Holtby and Ovechkin led to the third unanswered goal for New York. Yikes!

11. Did I say three unanswered goals for New York? I meant four, because Anthony Beauvillier put the Islanders up 4-2 just six minutes later. It seems as if the Capitals simply forgot a game in the National Hockey league is in fact three periods, not two.

The Islanders take a 1-0 series lead. Next up: Game 2 on Friday at 8pm ET.