NHL Hockey

Final 1 2 3 OT SO Tot
Washington 0 0 0 0 1 1
NY Islanders 0 0 0 0 0 0
4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET20:00 BRT, April 22, 2021
Nassau Coliseum, Uniondale, New York  Attendance: 1,400

With division title at stake, Islanders start series vs. Capitals

Washington Capitals at New York Islanders

  1. After losing the first three matchups of the season series -- all in Washington -- the Islanders have defeated the Capitals twice on home ice this month. New York hasn't won three straight regular-season games against Washington in the same season since 2007-08.
  2. The Capitals went 2-for-6 on the power play in Sunday's 6-3 loss at Boston and are 10-for-23 (43.5 percent) with the man advantage over their last five games. The 10 power-play goals are Washington's most in a five-game span within a season since going 10-for-28 from March 24-April 5, 2009.
  3. The Islanders rank 29th in the NHL in power-play percentage (10.6) since March 1 and have scored less than two power-play goals in each of their last 25 games. It's the franchise's longest streak of games without multiple power-play goals in a season since a 43-game run to begin the 2016-17 campaign.
  4. Washington allowed its third short-handed goal in its last seven games in Sunday's loss. The Capitals have surrendered a league-high seven short-handed goals this season, while the Islanders are one of two teams (Blues) not to permit any in 2021.
  5. Anthony Mantha is the first player in Capitals history to score a goal in each of his first four games with the franchise. Only two players in the expansion era (since 1967-68) have began their tenure with a team with a goal streak of five or more games, Evgeni Malkin (six with Pittsburgh in 2006-07) and Dmitri Kvartalnov (five with Boston in 1992-93).
  6. Kyle Palmieri has been held without a goal in nine straight meetings with the Capitals dating back to last season, tied for the second-longest drought of his career against an opponent (nine vs. Wild, 2013-16). He had a 13-game goalless streak against the Kings from 2014-18.
(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

The New York Islanders finally returned to playing their brand of hockey Tuesday night -- and in the nick of time for the three-game series against the Washington Capitals that may determine more than just the East Division champion.

The Islanders and Capitals are scheduled to battle for first place Thursday night, when New York hosts Washington in a battle of longtime rivals in Uniondale, N.Y.

The Islanders moved into a tie for first place with the Capitals on Tuesday night, when Josh Bailey had his first two-goal game in more than two years in a 6-1 win over the visiting New York Rangers. Washington hasn't played since Sunday, when it fell to the host Boston Bruins, 6-3.

The two teams are tied with the exact same record -- 29-13-4 for 62 points with 10 games left in the season. But if Thursday's clash is decided in regulation, the loser could fall into third place and run the risk of losing home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The third-place Pittsburgh Penguins, who are scheduled to play the skidding New Jersey Devils on Thursday night, are just one point behind the Islanders and Capitals. In addition, the Bruins enter Thursday just four points out of first.

"Any one of the four teams could win the division -- it's that close and it's going to come down to the last 10 games and how you play," Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said. "It 100 percent is in our hands on how it goes down the stretch. But that can be said for the other three teams as well."

The Capitals lead the season series 3-2-0 and have outscored the Islanders 16-15, although New York has won the last two games.

"It's not going to be easy -- I think Washington and us have had some tough games this year," Bailey said. "And I'm sure Thursday will be no different."

The win over the Rangers represented a much-needed change of pace and return to form for the Islanders, who scored just five goals in their previous five games while going 2-3-0 with overtime wins over the Rangers and Flyers.

On Tuesday, the Islanders raced out to a 3-0 lead in a span of just over eight minutes spanning the first and second periods before adding three goals in fewer than four minutes in the third.

"They don't always come easy at this time when everyone's trying to make a push to make the playoffs and we're just trying to keep our spot," Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau said. "I thought we came out tonight as a brotherhood. We came in, and since the puck was dropped, we really showed what we have. We played the right way for 60 minutes and we got the result we wanted."

The Capitals headed into their three-day break off an inconsistent stretch. Washington is 6-6-0 in its last 12 games, a span in which it has earned wins by five and seven goals yet also lost three times by three goals and once by four goals.

The Capitals spotted the Bruins a two-goal, first-period lead Sunday before scoring three goals in just 5:04 before Boston finished the game with four unanswered tallies.

"I don't think that we ever stopped trying to pursue that game and it just didn't happen for us," Laviolette said.

--Field Level Media

Updated April 22, 2021

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