The New York Islanders went into Thursday’s game with a chip on their shoulders over Tom Wilson’s big hit that sidelined defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky. Anders Lee settled that dispute early in the contest with a sparring match, but the Islanders now have more immediate problems after suffering a 5-1 loss to Washington tonight.
New York was able to strike first as Josh Bailey found the back of the net shortly after Lee’s fight. However, Evgeny Kuznetsov managed to even the score midway through the first period and Karl Alzner put the Capitals’ up 2-1 in the second frame.
Then the floodgates open in the third as the Capitals netted three goals in the span of just over six minutes to drive Jaroslav Halak out of the contest. Despite only lasting 49 minutes and surrendering five markers, Halak still finished with 30 saves.
Kuznetsov, who was held off the scoresheet in his first four playoff contests, led the charge with two goals and an assist. Jason Chimera and Karl Alzner each chipped in a goal and an assist for Washington.
Islanders goaltender Michal Neuvirth held his own in relief of Halak, but the damage was already done. The Islanders will how head back to Nassau Coliseum. Their home since 1972, they will be saying goodbye to it on Saturday if they lose in Game 6.
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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.
Kyle Okposo is not a Tom Wilson fan.
Wilson, a major physical presence for the Caps in their 2-1 OT win over the Islanders Tuesday night, was ripped by Okposo after dishing out big hits on Isles forward Josh Bailey and d-man Lubomir Visnovsky in Game 4.
“He’s an idiot,” Okposo said, per Newsday. “The guy runs around, hits reckless, leaves his feet. There’s no place for that.”
Wilson finished the night with a team-high five hits and a brief tangle with Cal Clutterbuck, but it’s the penalties taken in conjunction with the Bailey and Visnovsky collisions that likely drew Okposo’s ire:
The Visnovsky hit didn’t sit well with Isles head coach Jack Capuano either, as he suggested Wilson left his feet to deliver the blow. Visnovsky left the game following the blast and didn’t return, finishing with just 7:50 TOI.
It’s worth noting that, prior to tonight’s game, Wilson alluded to upping the physicality:
“I know Latts is fired up to get in tonight, hopefully, and it’ll be good to get back together and give them some of their own medicine,” Wilson said, referring to the Islanders’ fourth line of Matt Martin [22 hits], Clutterbuck [17 hits] and Casey Cizikas [7 hits].
Related: Caps’ Fehr to miss Games 4 and 5 after Okposo hit