Islanders answer Alex Ovechkin challenge to take 2-0 series lead


Alex Ovechkin welcomed himself to the postseason Friday night, but the Islanders took a 2-0 series lead anyways.

Barry Trotz’s crew withstood a two-goal game from the dangerous Ovechkin, finding a quick response to his second strike and imposing their will late to come away with a 5-2 win at Scotiabank Arena.

Brock Nelson provided the winner, stealing a puck and scoring on a breakaway 15 seconds after Ovechkin had tied it 2-2 early in the second period. The Islanders buckled down the rest of the way and added a pair of late goals to extend their first-round series lead, with Game 3 set for Sunday afternoon.

Ovechkin had a chance to make it a hat trick midway through the third period on the power play, but with an open net to work with he pushed the shot wide.

The Islanders made the most of the missed opportunity, putting in some gritty work on the forecheck late to make the Capitals’ chances of a comeback even harder. Cal Clutterbuck delivered an insurance goal with 2:46 left in the third period and Anders Lee added an empty-netter for the final tally.

Ovechkin had been held without a point through the Capitals’ first four postseason games but the ticking time bomb finally broke through a minute into Game 2. The Capitals dumped the puck into their offensive zone and Ovechkin got his stick on it following an odd bounce off the boards, skating to the net and putting a backhanded shot past Semyon Varlamov (23 saves) for the 1-0 lead 56 seconds into the first period.

It was part of a slow start for the Islanders, who registered just one shot on net through the first 10 minutes of the opening period. They seemed to find their legs as the period went on, though, finally putting some pressure on Capitals goalie Braden Holtby before hitting the first intermission.

The Islanders finally capitalized on the power play for the first time in the series early in the second period, which set off a wild flurry of four goals in 3:58. Nick Leddy got it going by ripping a low line drive that hit off the post and then went in to tie it 1-1 on the man advantage at 2:56

Matt Martin gave the Islanders the lead at 5:01 when he crashed the crease and one-timed a perfect pass from Scott Mayfield to make it 2-1.

Shortly after Leo Komarov clanged a shot off the post that would have made it 3-1, Ovechkin struck again. The Russian star redirected a shot from the point by Brenden Dillon to tie it 2-2 at 6:39.

But the Islanders found a quick response, just 15 seconds later. Nelson stole a puck and took off on the breakaway, beating Holtby for the 3-2 lead.

The Capitals came out for the third period with another big push in the opening minute, but Varlamov came up with three big saves to keep the lead intact.

In Game 1, both Capitals goals had come on their dangerous power play. The Islanders did well to avoid having to kill off penalties for most of Game 2 — the only time they went to the box through the first two periods, they made sure it was when a Capital was coming with them for matching minors.

The Capitals did get a pair of power plays in the third period, but the Islanders were able to kill them off — the first on a strong kill and the second with a little bit of help from Ovechkin going wide.

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