No. 3 Capitals vs. No. 6 Islanders
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New York leads best-of-7 series, 2-0
The Washington Capitals will try to avoid a third straight loss to the New York Islanders in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Sunday.
The Capitals have scored first in each of the first two games but have been outscored 5-0 in the third period.
“I think this is a great opportunity for us to show everyone what we are made of,” Washington forward Carl Hagelin said. “We can’t let those lapses come, especially not two games in a row. We’ve played enough hockey in this locker room that we know that playoffs is a different breed.”
Teams that lose the first three games are 4-190 (2.1 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL series.
Capitals coach Todd Reirden said center Nicklas Backstrom, who was in the NHL concussion protocol after Game 1 and did not play in Game 2 on Friday, skated at the end of practice Saturday. “We’ll see how everyone’s doing tomorrow morning,” Reirden said.
Here are 3 keys to Game 3:
1. Must-win mentality
Their season won’t end with a loss, but the Capitals must play with the mentality that it would. They have been outplayed late in games, particularly a stretch in Game 2 when they spent about three minutes in their own end before Cal Clutterbuck gave the Islanders a two-goal lead in a 5-2 win in Toronto, the Eastern hub city.
“As of right now, I don’t think we’ve made it extremely hard for the Islanders to get wins against us,” Capitals forward T.J. Oshie said Saturday. “Each time that’s happened, I think we’ll come together a little tighter. Just really stick to our game plan and play that way for a full 60 (minutes). We haven’t showed them that yet this series, and tomorrow is as good as ever to get going there.”
2. Not chasing game
The Islanders have had to come back in each game and fell behind 56 seconds into Game 2.
“I think we want to have some better starts,” captain Anders Lee said. “It’s not going to get easier here; they’re going to bring their best, even better than they have the first two games. It’s a tough task ahead. We have to continue to raise our level and expect more from ourselves and continue to build off what we’ve established here in this series.”
3. Establishing forecheck
Washington forward Alex Ovechkin scored his first two goals of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Friday, both at even strength, but the Capitals still couldn’t muster a consistent attack 5-on-5, especially in the third period. They’ll need to figure out how to break through against New York’s defense Sunday.
“Obviously we were able to score a couple of 5-on-5 goals last game, and we did make a move in the right direction in a few areas offensively,” Reirden said. “But I think it’s still obviously not where it needs to be and can be, given the group that we have.
“To me, it starts off the importance of puck management and putting the puck behind the opposition’s defense for a full game. We start to do it, we’ve done it in both the first periods of Game 1 and Game 2, we’re just not able to do it for 60 minutes.”
Capitals projected lineup
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana — Lars Eller — T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin — Travis Boyd — Ilya Kovalchuk
Richard Panik — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway
Michal Kempny — John Carlson
Brenden Dillon — Dmitry Orlov
Jonas Siegenthaler — Nick Jensen
Scratched: Philippe Maillet, Beck Malenstyn, Connor McMichael, Brian Pinho, Daniel Sprong, Alexander Alexeyev, Martin Fehervary, Radko Gudas, Tyler Lewington, Pheonix Copley
Unfit to play: Nicklas Backstrom
Islanders projected lineup
Anders Lee — Mathew Barzal — Jordan Eberle
Anthony Beauvillier — Brock Nelson — Josh Bailey
Derick Brassard — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Leo Komarov
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech — Ryan Pulock
Devon Toews — Scott Mayfield
Nick Leddy — Andy Greene
Scratched: Michael Dal Colle, Ross Johnston, Otto Koivula, Tom Kuhnhackl, Andrew Ladd, Sebastian Aho, Johnny Boychuk, Noah Dobson, Thomas Hickey, Christopher Gibson
Unfit to play: None