After Braden Holtby made a third and final stop in a shootout Saturday night to snap the Washington Capitals’ five-game losing streak, the netminder pumped his blocker hand and received a group hug from teammates. But that’s all the celebration there would be. The Capitals filed off the ice at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum following their 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders with no delusions about what this victory meant. As encouraging as Washington’s rally from a two-goal deficit and triumph in the tiebreak might be in a vacuum, it doesn’t significantly improve their postseason chances. This particular triumph, delivered in the extra session on a goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov , was far from a clean outing. The Capitals, who saw Mike Green unable to finish the game after suffering an undisclosed upper body injury in the first period, were outshot 38-29 and seemed to be caught off guard by a speedy New York squad at the start. “Guys know where we’re at. We can’t celebrate too much. We’ve got to win them all to have a chance,” Jason Chimera said. “So hopefully we can take the good and the bad of this game — there was a lot of stuff to learn from. But you’ve got to keep going. You’ve got to win every game from now on. That’s where we’ve left ourselves, and guys realize that.” With the win, Washington (83 points) moved within two of Columbus, which holds the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Blue Jackets have five games remaining and own the tiebreaker. The Capitals also trail New Jersey (84 points) and Toronto (84). But even if they win their four remaining games, the Capitals have less than a 50 percent chance of making the playoffs according to SportsClubStats.com. “These two last games we’ve played with more urgency, come out with more energy and we don’t have a choice,” Marcus Johansson said. “We have to come out hard, and we have to win every game.” The Islanders may be the third-worst team in the Eastern Conference and without two of their top players — John Tavares and Kyle Okposo — because of injuries, but they have embraced the role of spoiler down the stretch. New York came into the game having won five of its past six, boosted by an influx of young prospects getting a chance to prove themselves at the NHL level.
Capitals keep playoff hopes alive after Kuznetsov’s shootout goal
Washington Post | Apr 6