In Toronto, a huge series between the New York Islanders and the Washington Capitals drops the puck for Game 2. The Islanders have a chance to take a commanding 2-0 series lead, while the Capitals will aim to increase the intensity and even up the series.
Here is a preview for Game 2, along with a recap of the series and a free pick. Washington is favored at -125, according to the latest odds.
Game 1 had the makings of a Capitals win before things turned around very quickly. The Islanders scored four unanswered goals, three of them coming in the final period, to erase the two-goal deficit and win 4-2. After two power-play goals in the second by RW T.J. Oshie put Washington up by a pair, RW Jordan Eberle put the Isles on the board before the period ended.
But in the third period, New York dominated thanks to goals from LW Anders Lee, RW Josh Bailey, and LW Anthony Beauvillier. The Islanders also ended up outshooting the Caps by one, despite having just two shots on goal in the first period. Semyon Varlamov made 24 saves to earn his fourth win of the restart.
Key to Victory
Islanders will win if they stay out of the box. New York is a team that relies on strong defense and goaltending to win games. But while their defense is solid, the penalty kill was just 15th during the regular season.
Their so-so penalty killing was evident on Wednesday when they allowed the Caps to score twice on the power play out of seven chances. A team like Washington, with stars like LW Alex Ovechkin and C Evgeny Kuznetsov, will eventually burn you with seven power-play chances, so New York will have to play a lot more disciplined.
Capitals will win if they play a tougher, more physical game. It doesn’t necessarily fit Washington’s style, but it may be necessary to defeat the Islanders and even the series.
Although the Caps got out to a 2-0 lead and scored twice on the power play, they were mostly ineffective at even strength, registering just 14 shots during five-on-five play. The Capitals must be stronger on the forecheck and not allow New York to bully them around at even strength.
We should see a rematch of the Game 1 goaltenders. That means Varlamov for New York, who made 24 saves on 26 shots, allowing the two goals on the power play. Washington will head back to Braden Holtby, who went 23-for-27 in the game.
It was the first time Holtby had allowed four goals or more since March 4 against the Flyers.
One big injury that makes a huge difference in this game is C Niklas Backstrom. The veteran center got hurt in Game 1 and will not play tonight, leaving Washington’s second line short-handed.
I think the Islanders stay out of the box a little more than the last game while continuing to make life hard for the Capital forwards. I’m going with New York as the “underdog” to take a 2-0 series lead.
Pick: Islanders +106