Caps 2, Islanders 1

The Isles always manage to play us tough no matter what their record is and tonight was no different. Despite being down a defenseman, the Isles managed to handle our offense pretty well for the most part and they could have easily won this game. The difference makers were Michal Neuvirth, a strong PK (I KNOW RIGHT.) and Alexander Ovechkin. It was a fun game to watch and I really like that we’re placing more emphasis on playing defense now. Mainly because it’s working, ha. I was pretty relaxed tonight even if we were trailing for most of the game because I figured that Dwayne Roloson couldn’t stand on his head forever. Some other thoughts.

– I never would have thought the penalty kill would be 100% through the first four games. They are continuing to stay aggressive and not allow their opponents to get a lot of shots on goal. Isles only had one shot on goal on three powerplays.

– The top line seems to have woken up now. Alex Ovechkin finally doing more leading by example and being the main spark for his team tonight. He was creating chances all game, scored the tying goal (while using the defenseman as a screen) and had the main feed on the game winner. Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble had their best games of the year so far, too. Backstrom had a very impressive night in the faceoff circle.

– Islanders attempted to do what everyone else does against the Caps; get in their passing lanes and block shots. Which is what they did to start the game but that strategy seemed to fail them during the second period where they were grossly outshot 15-6. It’s never a good sign when Mike Mottau is being relied on for top 2 minutes.

– Speaking of Isles defensemen, that giveaway Milan Jurcina had in the 2nd period was classic. Glad to see that he still plays careless like that, especially since he’s not on our team anymore. Led the Isles in hits, though.

– The Caps blocked 22 of the Isles shots tonight with Jeff Schultz, John Erskine and John Carlson leading the way. This is more of what I like to see. Green had to leave the game late, though but Boudreau said that it’s only a “stinger” and he’s listed as “day-to-day.”

– I never want to see Carlson paired with Erskine again. Okay, that might be an overstatement but the two of them weren’t at their best tonight. Erskine was smoked by Matt Moulson on a breakaway and Carlson got beaten badly by Nino Niederreiter on another one. Both of which were stopped by Neuvirth.

– Behind Ovie, Neuvirth has to be the team’s MVP this season so far. He’s been simply terrific in the first four games and continued with a solid performance and a great third period tonight.

– DJ King was quick to make his presence felt since he fought Trevor Gilles on his first shift. More PIM than TOI for him, haha.

– Glad to see the powerplay got on the scoresheet when it mattered the most this time. Doing it the old fashioned way by getting on front of the net like Backstrom did.

So while the result could have gone the other way, I’m glad that the Caps are grinding out wins like this and scoring those tough goals. Definitely a good start to the year and we can look forward to the home-and-home series with Boston coming up.

Three Stars:

1. Alex Ovechkin: 1G, 1 A, 3 SOG

Guess who he’s tied with for the league lead in goals? Clarke MacArthur! Just like everyone predicted.

2. Michal Neuvirth: 23 saves on 24 shots

Man, I am so excited about the goaltending of this team when Varlamov comes back. If Neuvirth keeps playing like this then we could quickly have one of the best tandems in the league.

3. Nino Niederrieter: 1 G, 2 SOG

congrats to him on scoring his first NHL goal. Weird to think that he’s younger than I am, haha.

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