The NHL is set up with another exciting slate of games on Tuesday. Four games will be up on the board throughout August 18. One of these matchups will be an elimination game between the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders. The Islanders will look to earn a huge win to sweep out the Capitals. Puck drop for this matchup will be around 8:00 PM Eastern time.
The Capitals have earned a record of 41-20-8 throughout this season, which earned them the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Washington went 1-1-1 throughout the round robin, which kept them as the third seed. The Capitals are now in a 3-0 hole against the Islanders, which they will look to begin the climb out of with a win in Game 4.
New York finished out the regular season with a record of 35-23-10, which put them in seventh place of the Eastern Conference. The Islanders met up with the Florida Panthers in the Qualifying round, where they eliminated Florida in four games. New York has kept it going with three straight wins to open up this series. The Islanders could be the first team to punch a ticket to the next round with a win on Tuesday night.
This series has been full of surprise as Barry Trotz and the Islanders have taken down the mighty Capitals. Washington seemed poised to make another run at the Stanley Cup this season, but now have to dig their way out of this deficit if they want to even make it to the next round. I expect the Capitals to remain calm in this one though as they look to earn a win to stay alive.
The Capitals and the Islanders met up four times throughout the regular season. The Capitals won both games in New York, while the Islanders won both games in Washington. They finished with a 2-2 tie in the regular season series and were even in goals at 14-14 throughout those four games. This playoff series has been a much different story though.
The first game of this series was back on August 12. T.J. Oshie scored back to back power play goals to open up the scoring. Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson both earned two assists as the Islanders came fighting back. Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist as New York earned the win. Semyon Varlamov stopped 24 of the 26 shots against him as the Islanders took Game 1 4-2.
The second game of this series was on August 14. Alexander Ovechkin opened up the scoring less than a minute in and tallied a second goal in the second period. It was not enough though for the Capitals to earn the win. Jean-Gabriel Pageau earned two assists, while ten different players all earned a point in the win. Semyon Varlamov had 23 saves on 25 shots as New York won 5-2.
Game 3 of this series was a much closer one, but the same result. Anders Lee opened up the scoring for New York in the first period. Evgeny Kuznetsov tied it up on the power play in the second period. The game then went to overtime, where Mathew Barzal won it on a slick backhand move. Varlamov stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced as the Islanders took a stranglehold on the series with a 2-1 win.
The Capitals had a solid special team unit throughout this season. Washington was able to capitalize on 19.4 percent of their power play chances, while killing off 82.6 percent of the penalties against them. The Capitals have done well on special teams in the playoffs as well. Washington has a power play success rate of 19.1 percent, while stopping 95.5 percent of their opponent’s power play attempts.
New York’s special teams were not great throughout the regular season. The Islanders were able to record a goal on 17.3 percent of their power play opportunities. New York killed off 80.7 percent of their penalties though. The Islanders have struggled a bit in the postseason on special teams. New York has scored on 16.7 percent of their power play chances, while earning a 72 percent penalty kill rate.
Washington owns the edge in this series when it comes to special teams. The Capitals power play may not be at its best, but their penalty kill has been excellent. If Washington can dominate Game 4 on special teams, it could give them a good chance to earn a win in this series. The Islanders will look to get the power play going though, to finish off Washington in Game 4.
I expect Braden Holtby to get the start in net for the Capitals in Game 4 of this series. Holtby finished out the regular season with a record of 25-14-6. He posted a save percentage of .897 and a 3.11 GAA throughout those starts. Holtby has struggled a bit in these playoffs as well, putting up a .907 save percentage and a 2.64 GAA.
Semyon Varlamov will get the nod in the crease for New York in this one. Varlamov earned a record of 19-14-6 throughout the regular season. In those starts, he put up a .914 save percentage and a GAA of 2.62. In the playoffs, Varlamov has posted an impressive save percentage of .932 and a GAA of 1.71. If Varlamov can keep this up, the Islanders will have a good chance to sweep the Capitals.
Varlamov has been the much better goalie in both the regular season and in the playoffs. Braden Holtby had a strong start in Game 3 of this series, but fell short in overtime. If Holtby can build upon that performance, it could help give the Capitals a chance to earn a big win in this one. Varlamov has played great all series and Washington will need to get more pressure on him if they want to break through.
New York has a great chance to eliminate the Capitals on Tuesday night, but I do not expect Washington to go without a fight. The Capitals have a better special teams’ unit and if Holtby can give them another strong start, they could live to see another game. The Islanders are coming off a nice overtime win, but I expect Ovechkin to rally his troops to stay alive.
BetOnline has New York listed as a -108 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Islanders will win this game around 52 percent of the time. I believe that New York has earned a higher line than this, but I still see value in Washington. The Capitals are not going to go out without a fight, and I expect that to show on Tuesday night. I think the Capitals will keep this series alive with a big win in Game 4.