The Islanders got off to a poor start against the league-leading Washington Capitals, but it looked like they were about to dig out of it. That is, however, until their fate turned late in the second period.
Brock Nelson scored just under two minutes into the second to cut the Caps' lead to 2-1. Then, shortly after the Isles killed off a high-sticking call on Kyle Okposo, Tom Wilson was sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct with just over seven minutes to go in the stanza.
The Isles inundated Braden Holtby with a flurry of shots, but Holtby turned them all aside and Washington killed off the power play. Just six seconds after Wilson left the box and the sides were even, Nate Schmidt blasted a slap shot from just inside the blue line past Jaro Halak to give Washington a 3-1 lead.
"Toward the end of the period it was really big," Capitals coach Barry Trotz told reporters. "Schmidt's goal right after the big kill there where we got some good saves by Braden. I thought we managed the game really well."
This was the game right here. The Isles had so many chances at point blank range on this power play. On two separate occasions, the puck fluttered through the goal mouth, but no one could get a stick down to tap home the equalizer. Holtby stood on his head for the better part of two minutes, and it made all the difference.
I was disappointed in the exchange off the Washington kill. Marek Zidlicky turned the puck over in his own zone, and that usually spells trouble. It was frustrating to see that from a veteran in a situation they knew was critical. By the time Schmidt got the feed from Nicklas Backstrom, this game has been iced. It just goes to show how the little moments in each game can turn a contest on their head. Playing down one of their top d-men, the Islanders needed to be mistake-free to beat Washington, and this slip up in the second ensured that would not be the case on either front.