In “Any Given Sunday,” Al Pacino gives a speech about “a game of inches.” Sometimes that rings quite literally true, such as a moment in the second period between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals.
Mikhail Grabovski was this close to scoring his first career postseason goal. Instead, it bounced harmlessly away, and Braden Holtby was able to freeze the puck shortly afterward:
Keep this moment in mind if Game 6 ends up being a one-goal game, especially if Washington manages to win. The contest remains 1-1 as the third period begins.
The second period also included an interesting moment, as Islanders defenseman Matt Donovan received a 10-minute misconduct during this exchange. Perhaps it was something he said?
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in today’s Stanley Cup playoff action…
Capitals at Islanders, 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC
Saturday could mark the final NHL game at Nassau Coliseum. The New York Islanders are on the brink of elimination following a 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 5 on Thursday night. New York’s offense has dried up. After scoring seven goals in the first two games in the series, the Islanders have just four goals in three games. Washington starter Braden Holtby has stopped 98 of 102 Islanders shots after missing Game 2 due to illness. Chris Cuthbert and Joe Micheletti will have the call of Game 6.
Red Wings at Lightning, 6:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Tampa Bay will look took to take a 3-2 series lead after erasing a 2-0 deficit in Game 4 to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in overtime on Thursday tying the series 2-2. Bolts forward Tyler Johnson has four goals and an assist through the first four games of the series picking up the slack for captain Steven Stamkos, who has just two assists in the series. John Forslund and Andy Brickley have the call of Game 5.
Predators at Blackhawks, 8:00 p.m. ET on NBC
The Nashville Predators will look to stave off elimination once again tonight as the series shifts back to Chicago’s United Center for Game 6. The Preds will be without captain Shea Weber for the remainder of the series due to a lower body injury. Blackhawks goaltender Scott Darling gets the start tonight as Chicago looks to advance to the second round for a third consecutive season. Doc Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Pierre McGuire are on the call.
Canucks at Flames, 9:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Like the Preds, the Vancouver Canucks will need to win on the road tonight to stave off elimination and force a Game 7. The Calgary Flames are looking to advance to the second round for the first time since 2004 when they came one win shy of capturing the franchise’s second Stanley Cup. With their loss in Game 5, the Flames have lost six straight games when they’ve had an opponent on the brink of elimination. Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson and Scott Oake will have the call of Game 6.
Trailing 3-0 and facing elimination, the Ottawa Senators will go back to their veteran netminder tonight at home versus Montreal.
Coach Dave Cameron confirmed this morning that Craig Anderson would get the start over rookie Andrew Hammond.
“He has a proven playoff record of being a real good goalie,” Cameron told reporters.
Anderson stopped all but two of the Canadiens’ 49 shots in Sunday’s 2-1 overtime loss — a defeat that put the Sens on the verge of being swept.
As noted by his coach, the 33-year-old has been a solid playoff performer, registering a career postseason save percentage of .928 in 25 appearances. Among active goalies who’ve started more than 10 playoff games, only Mike Smith, Jonas Hiller, Braden Holtby, and Tuukka Rask have a higher save percentage than that.
Thanks to a third period marker from Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals managed to force extra time in this afternoon’s game against the New York Islanders, but it took captain John Tavares just 15 seconds of overtime to make Backstrom and Washington’s efforts moot.
That has to be frustrating, but Washington can’t afford to get frustrated.
“We need to forget this one and understand what we need to do to be successful in the next one,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz told CSN Washington.
“We know the environment; we know the opposition. We’ll probably make a couple of subtle changes and go back at it. We’ll pout about it for an hour and let it go and have positive thoughts going forward.”
Washington is now down 2-1 in the series, so naturally another loss on Tuesday would push the Capitals to the brink. The pressure is on Alex Ovechkin in particular after the Islanders managed to limit him to three shots on goal Sunday. Special teams are another big X-factor given that the squads are a combined 1-for-12 with the man advantage in this series. The power play is particularly important for Washington given that it was one of its main strengths in the regular season.
On the plus side, Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby returned from an illness and stopped 40 of 42 shots.
“He was square to the puck,” Trotz said. “They were putting pucks on him from everywhere. He responded well. He looked sharp.”
Washington is in a difficult position, but it certainly has reasons to believe it can bounce back.
Video: Tavares, Islanders take 2-1 series lead with OT win
The New York Islanders needed just 15 seconds of overtime to net the game-winner.
John Tavares put home the rebound off of a Nikolay Kulemin shot for his first of the playoffs.
The Islanders’ captain had a league-high four overtime winners in the regular season.
New York dominated the first two periods out-shooting the Caps 33-13.
Kyle Okposo’s second of the playoffs gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead after two periods.
Nicklas Backstrom tied it 1-1 at 13:54 of the third to force overtime.
Capitals forward Eric Fehr left the game early in the first period with an upper body injury following a hit from Okposo and did not return.
Braden Holtby, who missed Game 2 due to illness, made 40 saves in the loss.
Jaroslav Halak stopped 24 shots for the win.