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Islanders rally to beat Alex Ovechkin-less Capitals

WASHINGTON — Peter Laviolette couldn’t explain why his Washington Capitals fell flat in a 4-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday night with a chance to move up the standings and improve their playoff positioning.

“We were floored,” said the experienced NHL coach. “I do not know.”

Playing without injured captain Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals extended a lead and gave up four unanswered goals to an opponent long out of the playoffs. They conceded power play goals to Ryan Pulock and Noah Dobson, goaltender Ilya Samsonov botched an attempt to handle the puck behind the net to help Casey Cizikas score while outnumbered, and Tom Wilson handed the puck to Anders Lee to save New York’s fourth goal to score game.

“The boys were a bit out of sync, couldn’t do much,” said winger Tom Wilson. “Kind of an ugly game.”

Washington failed to overtake rivals Pittsburgh for third place in the Metropolitan Division after the Penguins lost at home to Edmonton, but the Caps still have two more chances before the end of the regular season.

Ryan Pulock #6 of the New York Islanders celebrates a first season goal against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on April 26, 2022 in Washington.
The Islanders’ Ryan Pulock celebrates a goal in the first half against the Capitals.
Getty Images

Ilya Sorokin made 32 saves to help the Islanders hit a five-game losing streak near the end of a season that had turned into a losing season a year after reaching the finals in the East. They played a forward short with 17 skaters instead of the usual 18 after Brock Nelson and Zdeno Chara were ruled out due to illness.

Nelson was in uniform and expecting to play until he told coach Barrydios just before warming up that he didn’t feel well enough.

“Our room is hacking and coughing and there’s a lot of people who are sick and they’re struggling right now,”diot said. “Give them lots of credit. I thought it was a good character win.”

Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) celebrates his goal with right wing Josh Bailey (12) as Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov (9) looks on during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, in Washington.
Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) celebrates his goal with right winger Josh Bailey (12).
AP

Ovechkin was viewed as a game-time decider and is listed as a day-by-day, but it was apparent earlier in the day that he wasn’t a good bet to play with what the team calls an upper-body injury. He hit the boards left shoulder first on Sunday and his future status is uncertain.

The Capitals got some clarifications about their first-round opponent: Carolina’s win at the New York Rangers secured the Metropolitan Division, and combined with Boston’s win over Florida, Washington takes the Hurricanes out of the equation.

Washington will now open against the Rangers or Panthers, depending on how the final games of the season go.

The Capitals could have finished third in the Metro if they played the Islanders again on Thursday — they would have won on Tuesday. Now it’s up to Friday to see if Washington can avoid Eastern Conference-leading Florida and a more difficult path through the Atlantic Division side of the bracket.

“We can’t play like tonight,” said Laviolette. “We’re not. This is not our MO. It’s a night, it was lousy and that’s it.”

On their way to a second tough loss in a row, the Capitals got a little scare when winger TJ Oshie took a puck off his left foot and briefly left the game. Conor Sheary, who scored his only goal from a deflection in the first half, also went down in the second half and blocked a shot but stayed in.

“He finished the game,” Laviolette said of Oshie. “He came back and played and seemed fine.”

https://nypost.com/2022/04/26/islanders-rally-to-beat-alex-ovechkin-less-capitals/ Islanders rally to beat Alex Ovechkin-less Capitals

JOE HERNANDEZ

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