CapsIsles

Get your game notes: Islanders at Capitals

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This evening on NBCSN, it’s the Washington Capitals hosting the New York Islanders starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• The Islanders visit Washington tonight having allowed 21 goals in dropping their last 5 games (0-4-1). New York’s 3.28 goals-against average is 2nd-worst in the league, better only than Edmonton’s 3.34 GAA. The Capitals, meanwhile, has scored 21 goals in their last five games, a 3-1-1 stretch that followed a season-worst seven-game skid.

• The Islanders are 5-14-3 vs. the Metropolitan Division, the worst record of any NHL team within its own division. With 50 points, the Islanders sit in last place in the Metro, 12 points out of a playoff spot and trying to avoid a 6th last-place finish in 7 seasons.

• Washington’s Joel Ward has 4 goals and an assist in his last 3 games to raise his season total to 17, matching his career high from 2009-10 as a Predator. Ward hasn’t scored against the Islanders since Nov. 5, 2011 (0- 2=2 in 8 games since).

• Alex Ovechkin’s game-winning goal vs. Detroit on Sunday was his league-leading 39th of the season and the 15th overtime winner of his career, tied for the third-most all-time (Mats Sundin, Sergei Fedorov). Only New Jersey’s Jaromir Jagr (18) and Patrik Elias (16) have more.

• The Capitals’ power play (23.2%, 3rd in NHL) awoke with 4 goals in 8 chances over the weekend home-and home with Detroit, following a 3-for-42 stretch spanning 11 games. It will look to keep rolling tonight against the Isles’ league-worst penalty kill (76.8%) – although the Isles are near the top of the league with 5 shorthanded goals while the Caps’ PP has been burned for 7.

• Washington has split its goals evenly over home and away games (79 home goals, 77 away goals, 28 games each). But Ovechkin hasn’t: 24 of his 39 tallies have come on home ice.

• New York’s Evgeni Nabokov is 12-2-3 in his career vs. the Caps, but was roughed up in his last outing against them, allowing a season-high 6 goals in a 6-2 loss Nov. 5 at Verizon Center. Nabokov is 0-2-0 with a 2.32 GAA since missing 10 games with a leg injury and will be seeking his first win since Jan. 2.

• Braden Holtby (WSH) counters with a 4-1-0 record and 1.77 GAA vs. the Islanders, though Holtby has been burned for 9 goals in his last two starts. Since Dec. 10, Holtby is 2-4-1, 3.77 GAA, .863 save%.

• Kyle Okposo, the Isles’ leader in goals (24 – matching career high), has points in 7 of his last 8 games. The St. Paul, Minn., product has 18 multi-point games this season, tied with Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel (both U.S. Olympians) for 2nd-most in the league (Sidney Crosby, 22). Since Dec. 17, no NHL player has scored more points than Okposo, and his usual linemates – with whom he’s been split at times recently – aren’t far behind.

Kyle Okposo, NYI 29
Phil Kessel, TOR 29
Sidney Crosby, PIT 28
John Tavares, NYI 27
Claude Giroux, PHI 27
Taylor Hall, EDM 26
Thomas Vanek, NYI 25
Wayne Simmonds, PHI 25

Tavares, however, is in the thick of his longest goal drought since 2011-12, with no goals in his last 6 games. Both Tavares and Vanek have gone without a point in their last 3 contests, though Tavares has a 6-game goal streak vs. the Caps.

Little-known Langhamer spurns Ducks comeback for Coyotes

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 14:  Ryan Getzlaf #15 of the Anaheim Ducks skates with the puck during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on January 14, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona. The Ducks defeated the Coyotes 3-0.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Both of Monday’s games could have gone beyond regulation, yet the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks were left kicking themselves after failing to generate standings points.

In the case of the Ducks, they simply couldn’t overcome a lousy start to the Arizona Coyotes. They erased most of a 3-0 deficit but ultimately fell 3-2 on Monday.

Again, it was an ugly opening for Anaheim.

Randy Carlyle turned to John Gibson to start the second period and the red-hot goalie didn’t give up a goal; even so, his strong work wasn’t rewarded with anything but nice numbers.

Ryan Getzlaf scored both of Anaheim’s goals, including one with less than 30 seconds remaining in the third period and the Ducks’ net empty. You’d think that would be the end of the drama, but that wasn’t the case.

Mike Smith needed to leave the net during the third, likely because of a collision with Jakob Silfverberg. (Sounds like he’s OK, though.)

This forced Marek Langhamer to close out the game, meaning he had to deal with Anaheim’s endgame barrage. That included making quite the clutch stop against Sami Vatanen, spurning quite the attempt to tie:

Wow.

A quick primer on Langhamer: he was a seventh-round pick by the Coyotes (then Phoenix, 184th overall in 2012). He’s spent chunks of this season in both the AHL and ECHL, so this must be quite the moment for the 22-year-old.

As cool as that story is, the Ducks have to be kicking themselves. Instead of going ahead of the Edmonton Oilers for the second spot in the Pacific, both teams remain locked at 72 points (with Edmonton holding two games in hand).

Coyotes fans might have mixed feelings about the returns for Michael Stone, but beating their division rivals had to feel like a resounding win.

Yes, the Florida Panthers are indeed on fire

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 09:  Michael Sgarbossa #48 of the Florida Panthers is congratulated after scoring a goal during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at BB&T Center on February 9, 2017 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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The Florida Panthers are on a ridiculous roll right now. They’re even hotter than the also-quite-hot St. Louis Blues.

You could practically hear the air leave the building in St. Louis as Vincent Trocheck‘s goal made it 2-1 with just five seconds remaining in regulation. To little surprise, that ended up being the final score on Monday in what was otherwise quite the goaltending duel between James Reimer and Jake Allen.

The Panthers won all five games of what seemed to be a harrowing road trip on paper:

Feb. 11: 7-4 win against Predators
Feb. 15: 6-5 OT win against Sharks
Feb. 17: 4-1 win against Ducks
Feb. 18: 3-2 win vs. Kings
Tonight: 2-1 win over St. Louis

The Panthers now face a four-game homestand to close out February and also play seven of eight in Florida. (Actually, eight of nine, as they close out that run by visiting the Lightning on March 11).

Anyway, the Cats are in the catbird seat, and they finish the night back in front of the Boston Bruins for third in the Atlantic Division:

1. Canadiens – 70 points in 59 GP
2. Senators: 68 in 57
3. Panthers – 66 in 58

Bruins – 66 in 59
Maple Leafs – 65 in 58
Sabres – 62 in 60
Lightning – 60 in 58
Red Wings – 58 in 59

As you can see, games in hand stand as Florida’s advantage over Boston, but with the Bruins holding the second wild card spot, the Panthers’ position in the playoff picture is clear (if vulnerable).

Again, it wasn’t like the Panthers outright dominated the Blues.

St. Louis and Florida both looked sharp in this one, but the Blues have lost two straight games in regulation after reeling off a six-game winning streak. With a ton of road games on the docket through the next month, the Blues will just need to keep fighting.

At least Mike Yeo has an easy team to point to in explaining how the Blues can overcome such challenges.

Video: Reimer, Allen shut down dangerous one-timers

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 09:  James Reimer #34 of the Florida Panthers makes a save during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at BB&T Center on February 9, 2017 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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In an ideal world, goalie equipment wouldn’t be such an issue. Teams would be able to “get goalies moving” with great passing and chances just about no one could stop.

Then again, there are also those saves that a select handful of humans can pull off. A big reason why there’s only been one goal between the Panthers and Blues tonight is the lateral movement shown by both James Reimer and Jake Allen.

First, watch as Reimer robs Jori Lehtera on what’s likely the save of the night:

Allen really hasn’t been that far behind Reimer, right down to making a similar stop:

Considering the two nearly identical one-timer goals scored by Arizona against Anaheim in finding seams for big passes through opposing defenses, tonight’s goalies might want to do some extra stretching during intermissions.

Dvorak, Coyotes put Ducks in early hole with slick goals (Video)

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 11:  Connor Murphy #5 (second from left) of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates with Alexander Burmistrov #91, Shane Doan #19 and Christian Dvorak #18 after Murphy scored the game winning goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on February 11, 2017 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Penguins 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Arizona Coyotes’ happy thoughts are mostly centered on the future. Christian Dvorak possibly being more than a guy who put up nice junior numbers with Matthew Tkachuk and Mitch Marner could fuel some really nice thoughts.

He’s been red-hot in February, in particular, including a goal already tonight as the Coyotes raced off to an early 2-0 lead against the Anaheim Ducks.

Check out that smooth play for his 10th goal of 2016-17:

Again, he’s been on quite the roll lately.

February: nine points (and counting?) in nine games
Rest of the season: 13 points in 45 games

He only had one assist in 12 January contests, so this outburst is even more unexpected than the Coyotes racing off to this lead.

Interestingly, the Coyotes two goals looked awfully similar, at least in the finish:

Randy Carlyle’s mood? Probably not too chipper right now.