John Tavares

Nothing but Kuznetsov: Caps best Isles in Game 7


During the offseason, the Washington Capitals spent big bucks on their defense after hiring head coach Barry Trotz. Those two factors seemed to come in quite handy in a Game 7 win against the New York Islanders.

Now, of course, the highlight reels will favor Evgeny Kuznetsov’s slick game-winner, and it’s easy to see why:

Still, the Capitals played a nearly perfect defensive game, however people feel about officiating and other issues. In fact, most would probably agree that even Braden Holtby’s goal allowed was more about the strong netminder having a rare (and almost critical) lapse.

Incredibly, Washington held the Islanders to just 11 shots on goal in the entire game. The most suffocating span probably came during the first period:


Jaroslav Halak had his adventurous moments with wild bounces off the boards, yet he was often outstanding, nearly befuddling the Capitals in yet another elimination situation. It’s unlikely the Islanders are looking on the bright side right now, but at least they should feel confident about locking down a goalie who remains excellent with everything on the line (even with this loss, he’s 6-2 in elimination games during his postseason career).

With this, the Capitals move on to face the New York Rangers in a rivalry that’s becoming familiar to fans of this Ovechkin-era Washington team. One could argue that, when you consider the strengths of both teams, this might just be the best the two squads have been collectively.

It’s a crushing feeling for the Islanders, who move from Long Island to Brooklyn with a heavy heart (though they at least closed Nassau Coliseum with a win).

Harsh or not, some will single out Islanders captain John Tavares:

(To be fair, Tavares had a nice series overall.)

Many will wonder why Isles bench boss Jack Capuano didn’t pull Jaroslav Halak during an honestly surprising late power-play opportunity, but ultimately, it was a team letdown for New York. They’ll have an uncomfortable amount of time to think about that … and possibly make some changes to continue their strides toward contender status in the East.

That said, considering serious injuries to their defense corps, the Islanders may at least find some sweetness to go along with all the bitter feelings of seeing their season end on Monday. It just might take some time.

Backstrom: Caps need to be ‘hungrier’ in Game 7


As close as the New York Islanders’ 3-1 win was in Game 6, it sounds like the Washington Capitals believe that there was a noticeable difference in the two teams’ effort levels.

Nicklas Backstrom mentioned the word “hungrier” twice in less than two minutes while describing Washington’s efforts, which indicates disappointment (and maybe an urge to leave the locker room for dinner). Head coach Barry Trotz admitted that the Islanders desperation level was “a little bit higher than ours,” according to the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt.

Should their be some concern about Washington’s historic difficulty to close out opponents?

Overall, the Capitals seemed a bit letdown by their efforts, but certainly not devastated. This contest was tight much like the majority of the contests in this series, as John Tavares said right after the Islanders’ win.

Going the distance: Isles edge Caps to force Game 7


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.

Everything happens: Ovechkin nails Tavares, Isles score


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?

Video: Penalties catch up to Islanders, Caps score late

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.