3 Keys: Capitals vs. Islanders, Game 4 of Eastern First Round

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No. 3 Capitals vs. No. 6 Islanders

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS, MSG, MSG+, NBCSWA

New York leads best-of-7 series, 3-0

The New York Islanders will try to complete a sweep of the Washington Capitals in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Tuesday.

Teams with a 3-0 lead are 190-4 (97.9 percent) winning a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series.

It’s the second year in a row the Islanders have been in this position; they swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2019 Eastern Conference First Round.

“Last year was last year,” New York coach Barry Trotz said. “I don’t know if it’s going to help, but I do know it’s not going to hurt. We recognize the quality of team that we’re up against on the other side, the high quality of personnel that they have. We’re just focused on ourselves mostly, so I think with our leadership group, we’ve kept a pretty focused group and we understand what’s at stake and we don’t look too far ahead.”

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (NHL concussion protocol) was a full participant in the morning skate and will be a game-time decision. He was unfit to play in Games 2 and 3.

Here are 3 keys to Game 4:

 

1. Stay the course

The Islanders have been dominant 5-on-5 since the postseason began Aug. 1 and have allowed two even-strength goals in this series. It’s vital they don’t stray from what’s made them so successful and get into a track meet with the Capitals.

“It’s about our game, how we play and go from there,” defenseman Andy Greene said. “We don’t change what we do, just kind of fix a few areas and go from there. [We] just need to focus on our game and go from there.”

 

2. One game

Coach Todd Reirden said the Capitals are not focused on winning the next four games, which it will need to do to win this series. Instead, it’s all about Game 4.

“We’ve got to be physically engaged right from the drop of the puck and be prepared to play our best, the best possible game we can play to give ourselves a chance to win,” Reirden said. “One game. Right now, all we’re focusing on is winning one hockey game. That starts with beating the guy across from you and doing it continually shift after shift. That’s where our mindset is right now.”

 

3. Power play must step up

The Islanders escaped Game 3 with a 2-1 overtime victory despite going 0-for-5 on the power play with six shots on goal. They are 1-for-14 in the series.

“We’re getting some looks, but it’s not consistent right now,” defenseman Devon Toews said. “There’s some things that we see and are trying to do, but at the same time, the [Capitals penalty kill is] doing a good job.”

 

Capitals projected lineup

Alex OvechkinEvgeny KuznetsovTom Wilson

Jakub Vrana — Nicklas Backstrom — T.J. Oshie

Carl HagelinLars EllerIlya Kovalchuk

Richard PanikNic DowdGarnet Hathaway

Brenden DillonJohn Carlson

Dmitry OrlovNick Jensen

Michal KempnyRadko Gudas

Braden Holtby

Vitek Vanecek

Scratched: Travis Boyd, Philippe Maillet, Beck Malenstyn, Connor McMichael, Brian Pinho, Daniel Sprong, Alexander Alexeyev, Tyler Lewington, Jonas Siegenthaler, Pheonix Copley

Unfit to play: Martin Fehervary

 

Islanders projected lineup

Anders LeeMathew BarzalJordan Eberle

Anthony BeauvillierBrock NelsonJosh Bailey

Derick BrassardJean-Gabriel PageauLeo Komarov

Matt MartinCasey CizikasCal Clutterbuck

Adam PelechRyan Pulock

Devon Toews — Scott Mayfield

Nick Leddy — Andy Greene

Semyon Varlamov

Thomas Greiss

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

 

Status report

Reirden said Fehervary was the only player who did not participate in the Capitals’ morning skate and will not play. A decision as to who replaces him will be made before the game.

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