New York Islanders (18-16-3) at Washington Capitals (17-17-2), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals will continue their playoff push on
Thursday night against another team in the thick of the postseason race as
they play host to the New York Islanders.
The Capitals have put together a 5-1-1 record over their last seven games,
with the lone regulation loss coming at home against the Islanders on March
26. Washington has pushed its point total to 36, two back of the Winnipeg Jets
for first place in the Southeast Division.
Washington was able to close that gap on Tuesday thanks to a 5-3 win over the
Carolina Hurricanes as well as New York's 5-2 triumph over Winnipeg. The
Isles won for the fifth time in six games and are tied with the New Jersey
Devils and New York Rangers for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern
Conference with 39 points.
The Capitals are actually closer to first place in the division than the
eighth spot in the conference as they trail the Rangers, Isles and Devils by
"There's still a lot of games. We can't get too far ahead of ourselves," Caps
coach Adam Oates said after the win over the Hurricanes. "Just like two weeks
ago, we didn't look at the standings either. We just have to play our hockey
and just keep improving. It's not going to be good enough to just play like
this. We have to keep improving and worry about (the playoffs) later."
Washington's current run has been sparked by Alex Ovechkin, who had two goals
and an assist in Tuesday's win. He has 20 goals on the season, with 10 tallies
and 15 points over a nine-game point streak.
Mike Green also scored twice and Nicklas Backstrom assisted on four goals for
The Islanders find themselves still in the hunt thanks to their recent string
of wins as well as season-long success on the road, where they are 11-5-1 this
season. New York, though, took care of business on home ice Tuesday in downing
Frans Nielsen snapped a tie game with a power-play goal in the final minute of
the second period, while Matt Moulson and John Tavares each had a goal and an
assist in the win. Tavares has scored a goal in six of his past eight games
and is second in the NHL with 23 tallies.
Colin McDonald also tallied and Anders Lee added a goal in his NHL debut after
signing a two-year entry-level contract on Monday. Kevin Poulin aided the
cause with a 23-save effort.
"We got pucks to the net and that was the big thing," said Islanders head
coach Jack Capuano. "After two periods we had close to 30 shots and that's the
one thing that we wanted to try to accomplish tonight."
The Isles have won the first two of three meetings with the Capitals this
season and four of the past six overall. They got a game-winning goal from
Tavares with 5:18 left to play in the 3-2 victory at Washington on March 26.
04/04 10:35:08 ET
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