Beninati: Crashing the Island

Beninati: Crashing the Island
January 21, 2011, 4:54 am
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Thursday, January 20, 2011 11:40 p.m.

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By Joe Beninati
Capitals Play-by-Play

The Nassau Coliseum treats the Caps with kindness no matter how many times the visitors crash the party.

Bruce Boudreau insisted that his team would be more aggressive tonight and they did not disappoint him. The game plan was forecheck more ambitiously and drive to the net with greater determination.

We saw that pay dividends in the first five minutes.

Nicklas Backstrom made a beautiful move to clear a defender at his own blue line and took the puck into space where Alex Ovechkin would join the rush and find Jason Chimera right on top of the crease for an easy tap-in.

Braden Holtby was very solid in goal in the opening twenty minutes. He received the surprise starting assignment when Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov both complained of muscle soreness following the Flyers game Tuesday. Holtby challenged shooters well tonight and he played with a comfort level we did not see when he last worked in the NHL back in November.

The Caps gave the 21-year-old goalie a lead to protect in the second frame. Ovechkin roared in on Islander goalie Rick DiPietro and shoveled the backhand into his pads that sat a foot from the goal line. Backstrom pounced on the rebound and deposited his first goal since December 1.

The relief on Nic's face was priceless. But that smile was gone less than two minutes later. The Islanders celebrated a pretty goal from speedy winger Michael Grabner, who turned a defender and roofed a backhand shot over Holtby's glove.

So many of the games with the Islanders turn out to be one goal decisions. And this one would join the long list.

The Caps tightened up defensively in the third and strangled the life out of New York. The Islanders had been hot on the power play prior to tonight, but Washington's penalty killers were a perfect 6-for-6 and that ultimately led to the victory this evening.

Next stop Toronto for Hockey Night in Canada Saturday. See you on Comcast SportsNet plus.