The New York Islanders did what they do best on Thursday night and completely shut down the Washington Capitals in a 4-0 Game 5 win.
That win will send the Islanders to the Second Round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second year in a row where they will play either the Philadelphia Flyers or Boston Bruins.
For the Capitals, it is the second year in a row they have been eliminated in the First Round after losing in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes a year ago. This time they lost to a divisional rival and their former coach, Barry Trotz.
On Thursday it was Anthony Beauvillier continuing his great postseason with a pair of goals to get the offense rolling, while Semyon Varlamov stopped all 21 shots he faced to record his first shutout of the playoffs. Nick Leddy and Josh Bailey also added empty-net goals in the closing minutes.
But for as good as Beauvillier and Varlamov were, the story of this game — and series, for that matter — was the way the Islanders just systematically shut down the Capitals offense and did not give them an inch anywhere in the offensive zone. As good as Varlamov played, this was not a case of a hot goalie stealing a series. This was an organized, well-coached, and disciplined team carrying the play and dominating the series. And pretty much every objective and subjective argument you want to use backs that up. The Islanders were the better team when it came to scoring chances, expected goals, 5-on-5 goals, and just consistently frustrated a Capitals team that was never able to find its rhythm against a stingy Islanders defense.
It continues what has been a wildly unexpected 180 degree turnaround from the team we saw at the tail end of the regular season when the Islanders were quite literally backing into the playoffs as one of the coldest teams in the league.
But thanks to the return of a healthy Adam Pelech (a huge addition to their defense), the fourth line getting healthy, and trade deadline acquisition Jean-Gabriel Pageau getting a chance to make an impact the Islanders been one of the hottest teams in the Return To Play, now owning a 7-2-0 record in the restart.
As for the Capitals, well, you can be sure there are going to be some changes this offseason. This is now two straight years without a playoff series win, Braden Holtby is an unrestricted free agent and may have just played his final game as a member of the Capitals, and it is very likely that coach Todd Reirden’s seat is piping hot after his team looked completely out of gas and helpless in that series.
No. 3 Washington Capitals vs. No. 6 New York Islanders (NYI win series 4-1)
Wednesday, Aug. 12: Islanders 4, Capitals 2 (recap)
Friday, Aug. 14: Islanders 5, Capitals 2 (recap)
Sunday, Aug. 16: Islanders 2, Capitals 1 (OT) (recap)
Tuesday, Aug. 18: Capitals 2, Islanders 1 (recap)
Thursday, Aug. 20: Islanders 4, Capitals 0