It took a goal with only 2:40 remaining in regulation to give the Washington Capitals the 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders in yesterday’s Game of the Day.
Only 1:55 into the game, Mikhail Grabovski scored the first goal with a wrister off assists from Josh Bailey (his 15th helper of the season) and Travis Hamonic, giving the Isles a one-goal lead. The Capitals scored only 5:33 later when First Star of the Game T.J. Oshie scored a slap shot off an Nicklas Backstrom’s first assist of the night. The one-all score held into the intermission.
The second period had only one goal, this one belonging to Washington. It was Andre Burakovsky scoring with a wrister off assists from Jason Chimera (his 15th helper of the season) and Dmitry Orlov.
New York scored quickly in the third, 5:38 into the period to be exact. It was a Bailey wrister after assists from Marek Zidlicky and Brock Nelson, to tie the game at two-all. Washington scored the game winner late in the third when Second Star Alex Ovechkin fired a wrister off assists from Nicklas Backstrom (his 31st of the season) and Oshie.
Braden Holtby earns the win after saving 24 of 26 (92.3%), while Jaroslav Halak saves only 20 of 23 (87%) and takes the loss.
The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 50-24-9, favoring the home squad by 36 points over the roadies.
There’s only four games on the docket this evening, with the Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (NHLN) game starting the festivities at 7:30 p.m. eastern, followed half an hour later by Carolina at Winnipeg. 9 p.m. eastern brings with it the beginning of the Columbus at Calgary game, followed an hour later by this evening’s nightcap, Arizona at Anaheim.
Arizona at Anaheim is the only divisional game this season, and none are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.
I must admit, I can’t decide between the Pittsburgh–Tampa Bay and Arizona–Anaheim games, as both are very important in the surge for the playoffs. That being said, I’m going to go with the Pens–Bolts game because it’s on national TV.
Tonight’s game will be Pittsburgh‘s eighth in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 3-3-1 record. Their most recent showing in the series was a 5-2 loss in St. Louis on January 18. Tampa Bay has been featured much more recently, as they beat the Red Wings 3-1 on Wednesday. That game was their eighth in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 4-3-1 record.
The 25-17-7 Pittsburgh Penguins currently sit in fifth in the Metropolitan Division and ninth in the Eastern Conference, only a point out of the second wildcard position. They’ve found their success by playing a top-10 defense, but it’s been paired with the 10th-worst offense in the league.
Even with Ian Cole’s team-leading 80 blocks, 20-11-5 Marc-Andre Fleury and co. have faced 1502 shots, of which they’ve saved 92.2% for 122 goals against, 10th-fewest in the league. One part of their overall defensive success has been having the seventh-best penalty kill unit in the league, killing 83.85% for only 26 extra-man goals against.
The offense has had a little bit of a tougher time, even though they’ve fired 1596 shots so far this season (led by Patric Hornqvist’s 158 shots), of which only 7.9% have found the back of the net for 126 goals (led by Evgeni Malkin’s 23 tallies), 10th-fewest in the league. Somehow, even though the offense as a whole hasn’t been as successful, the power play actually ranks eighth-best in the league, scoring on 20.48% of attempts for 34 extra-man goals (led by Malkin’s 10 power play tallies).
Going back to before the All-Star Break, the Penguins are riding a four-game winning streak, with their most recent being 6-5 victory over the Senators on Tuesday. A win today not only has the chance to move the Penguins into the playoffs, but all the way into the third division qualifier.
The 28-18-4 Tampa Bay Lightning currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference. Their defense is top-five in the league, and their offense is 14th-best. A more in-depth analysis of their game can be found in Wednesday’s post.
Going back to before the All-Star Break, the Bolts are riding a two-game win streak, with their most recent victory being the 3-1 victory over the Red Wings on Wednesday. While a win tonight doesn’t advance them in the standings, it would break the tie with the Boston Bruins.
These teams have already played once this season, and a whopping nine goals were exchanged, with the Bolts winning in overtime. The Penguins just played a game like that on Tuesday, so it will be interesting to see if they have any goals left over for tonight’s game.
Some players to watch in tonight’s game include Pittsburgh‘s Fleury (four shutouts [tied for third-most in the league] and 20 wins [tied for eighth-most in the league]) and Tampa Bay‘s Ben Bishop (1.99 GAA [second-best in the league], 20 wins [tied for eighth-most in the league] and .927 save percentage [tied for eighth-best in the league]).
Tampa Bay has been playing well of late, and have home ice. It is hard to pick against them.