The New York Islanders know it’s not going to be easy to eliminate the Washington Capitals in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Thursday (TBD; TBA).
“They weren’t going to go away without a fight,” Islanders forward Matt Martin said Wednesday.
New York failed to sweep Washington in the best-of-7 series, losing 3-2 in Game 4 on Tuesday in Toronto, the hub city for the East. The Islanders led 2-0 in the first period, but the Capitals tied it with goals 1:54 apart early in the second.
Alex Ovechkin‘s second goal of the game gave Washington the lead at 3:40 of the third period. The Capitals forward has four goals in the series.
“There’s been [talk] swirling around that there’s people here, teams here, that don’t seem interested or don’t seem like they care,” Martin said, “and I don’t think anybody would be in this bubble if they didn’t want to win the [Stanley] Cup.
“They’re a good team, we knew that coming into this series. We knew they were going to fight. They outplayed us in the second and probably for the most part in the third yesterday. Now it’s up to us to kind of get back to our game and respond the right way. We’ve got a chance to do that tomorrow night, and we still like where we are in this series and we still have a lot of confidence as a group.”
Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (NHL concussion protocol) will again be a game-time decision; he has been out since being hit by Islanders forward Anders Lee in the first period of Game 1. Backstrom was also a game-time decision for Game 4 but was unfit to play.
As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.
“He skated today,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said Wednesday. “… I have not heard how that session had went yet and then we will continue to evaluate him. … [I’m] looking to hear how things went today on the ice, and that’s a positive sign.”
Islanders coach Barry Trotz said New York could have a different look when it makes its second attempt at eliminating Washington.
“We’re contemplating a few (changes),” Trotz said. “We’ve talked about different situations. We’ll just see where we are later tonight. I’m going to have a couple of meetings with a couple of guys and we’ll make our decisions based on what we know and what we think will help us tomorrow.”
New York defenseman Johnny Boychuk has not played since being injured in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Florida Panthers. Boychuk was replaced by defenseman Andy Greene and has been a healthy scratch since the start of the first round.
There have been 195 best-of-7 playoff series when a team lost the first three games; 22 reached Game 6.
Washington is attempting to become the fifth team to win a series after trailing 3-0.
“I think when we were playing the right way, we can see it and we can feel it,” Capitals forward Tom Wilson said. “That helps with confidence and belief. We’re going to take it one game at a time, and we’ve just got to make sure that we’re giving it our all next game and build on it.”
The Islanders are expected to have forward Cal Clutterbuck available for Game 5; he did not play in the third period Tuesday after a hit from Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas at 15:14 of the second.
“I talked to him, he seems pretty good to go,” Trotz said. “I don’t see any issue right now, so we should be good to go.”