If this is indeed the game that closes down New York Islanders contests at Nassau Coliseum, then they’re leaving the building roaring. They also ended the game with a brawl.
The Islanders managed a 3-1 win in front of a boisterous home crowd on Saturday, forcing a Game 7 against the Washington Capitals. It was a tight, physical contest. An empty-net goal makes the score deceptive, as it was very close.
Both goalies played very well, with the decisive goal involving a wild moment between Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares and Nikolai Kulemin …
… And really, just about everyone on the ice, if we’re being honest.
One might not think bad blood when you hear Islanders vs. Capitals, at least in 2015. That’s absolutely an accurate way to describe the feelings between these two squads, as they even traded blows after the final whistle.
It’s been a heck of a first-round series between two of the East’s better teams, so it only seems fitting that it’s going the distance. The Verizon Center crowd has its work cut out for it if they want to match the atmosphere in Game 6, too.
When a questionable hit by Alex Ovechkin on John Tavares might not be the most noteworthy moment in a shift, you know it’s a wild sequence of events.
The New York Islanders and Washington Capitals engaged in some rough stuff even before that Ovechkin hit, but amid all the chaos, Nikolai Kulemin scored a 2-1 goal that could indeed be huge in Game 6:
Tavares earned an assist both literally and figuratively on that play, as so much attention came after he grabbed the puck and then took that hit.
There were no penalties on the play, just the goal. Is there some question that a whistle should have come during that frantic turn of events?
Leading 1-0 the New York Islanders took three straight minor penalties in the span of 6:21 in the first period.
It finally caught up to them.
With John Tavares in the box for slashing, John Carlson tied the game at 1-1 with 4.3 seconds remaining in the first.
The Islanders went into this game upset at Washington’s Tom Wilson for his big hit on Lubomir Visnovsky that has left the New York blueliner on sidelined with what might be a concussion.
Kyle Okposo called Wilson “an idiot” while John Tavares described Wilson’s actions as targeting a defenseless player.
It didn’t take long for that anger to manifest itself in the form of a fight between Wilson and Islanders forward Anders Lee in Game 5 on Thursday. You can watch that exchange below:
That sparring match seemed to inspire the Islanders as Josh Bailey found the back of the net just 26 seconds later:
Unfortunately for the Islanders, Washington’s Evgeny Kuznetsov responded with a goal of his own and the two sides consequently went into the intermission tied.
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…
Lightning at Red Wings, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Petr Mrazek is a big reason why the Detroit Red Wings are in a position to take a 3-1 series lead tonight. The 23-year-old is 7-5-1 with a .935 save percentage and four shutouts since Feb. 5. Mrazek is also 3-1 with two shutouts and a .945 in four starts against the Lightning. For the Bolts, Steven Stamkos is slumping. The captain has just two assists in his last four games and three assists in his last 13. Against the Wings, Stamkos has been held without a goal in four games. He’s failed to register a goal in six straight postseason games overall. John Forslund and Andy Brickley have the call of Game 4 tonight.
Islanders at Capitals, 7:00 p.m. ET on CNBC
Nicklas Backstrom is leading the charge for the Washington Capitals, who will look to take a 3-2 series lead tonight. Backstrom has three goals and three assists in the first four games of the series including the overtime winner in the Caps’ Game 4 win. Islanders’ captain John Tavares was held off the score sheet on Tuesday for the first time since March 28, but the Verizon Center has been a welcoming environment for Tavares, who has five points in four games in Washington. Kenny Albert and Pierre McGuire will be on the call tonight.
Blackhawks at Predators 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The Chicago Blackhawks will look to finish things off against the Nashville Predators tonight as the series moves to the Bridgestone Arena for Game 5. Brent Seabrook scored a minute into the third overtime and Scott Darling made 50 saves as Chicago took a commanding 3-1 series lead with a 3-2 win early Wednesday morning. The Blackhawks have won seven of 10 postseason meetings between the two clubs and three of five in Nashville. Gord Miller and Joe Micheletti are on the call for Game 5.
Flames at Canucks 10:00 p.m. ET on CNBC
Like the Blackhawks, the Calgary Flames can wrap up their series with the Vancouver Canucks with a win tonight. The Flames used a 3-1 win on Tuesday night to take a stranglehold on the series heading back to Vancouver for Game 5. The Calgary Flames haven’t won a playoff series since 2004 – the year they lost in the final to the Tampa Bay Lightning. This is their sixth series since the ’04 playoffs. Calgary has lost its last five games when they’ve had opponents on the brink of elimination. Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson and Scott Oake have the call tonight.