(SportsNetwork.com) – The first Game 7 of the 2015 playoffs is on tap for
Monday when the New York Islanders visit the Washington Capitals for the
decisive battle of this Eastern Conference quarterfinal.
The Islanders staved off elimination in Game 6, posting a 3-1 victory on
Saturday in what may have been their final game at Nassau Coliseum, which has
been the franchise’s home since its inception in 1972. New York, of course, is
moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn for the 2015-16 season, but could
extend its time on Long Island if it can win tonight in D.C. and reach the
second round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993.
Washington, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back on home ice and win its first
playoff series since three years ago when it beat Boston in seven games. The
Capitals have gone the distance in four straight playoff series and have come
out on the losing end in the last two. They have a 3-9 all-time record in Game
7s and a 2-7 mark at home.
The Caps beat the Bruins on the road in 2012, as Joel Ward tallied an overtime
winner to deliver a 2-1 victory for Washington in the franchise’s last Game 7
New York is 3-4 all-time in Game 7s and 3-3 on the road. The club picked up
its last series win by taking a decisive seventh game in Pittsburgh during the
second round of the 1993 playoffs.
The winner of tonight’s contest will move on to face the New York Rangers in
the next round. The Rangers, who own home-ice advantage throughout the
playoffs, beat Pittsburgh in five games to advance to the conference
The Caps and Isles were tied at 1-1 heading into the third period of Game 6,
but Nikolay Kulemin delivered the game-winner midway through the final stanza.
His first goal of the series came directly after captain John Tavares took one
for the team.
Tavares charged down the middle and put a shot on net that Washington
goaltender Braden Holtby knocked away. Tavares then chased after the puck in
the left corner and, while trying to dig it out, was crushed by Alex Ovechkin.
However, the puck wound up going to the mid-left boards where Nick Leddy
whipped it to the slot and Kulemin tucked it home for a 2-1 lead with 9:27 to
“Everybody worked as a team today,” said Kulemin. “It wasn’t one guy or two
guys, it was everybody.”
Cal Clutterbuck recorded an empty-net goal in the final minute. Clutterbuck
also was given a 10-minute misconduct for his part in a scuffle after the
final horn sound. A total of 26 penalty minutes were issued for the game-
Tavares ended with a goal and an assist while Jaroslav Halak turned aside 38
shots for the Isles.
“I wanted to make sure we gave ourselves a chance to get back to this
building,” said Tavares, who has two goals and four assists in this series
John Carlson had the only goal of the game for the Capitals and Holtby stopped
35 shots in the loss.
“We need to forget about this one and re-energize and re-focus,” said Carlson.
“All our energy needs to go to Game 7 and that’s it.”
New York won Game 6 despite dealing with a rash of injuries affecting its blue
line. Travis Hamonic has missed the entire series with a lower-body injury,
Lubomir Visnovsky has been out since suffering a concussion in Game 4 and
Calvin de Haan missed Saturday’s tilt after leaving the previous contest with
an upper-body injury. Young defensemen Matt Donovan, Scott Mayfield and
Griffin Reinhart have helped fill in for the injured players in recent games.
For the Caps, centerman Eric Fehr will likely miss a fourth straight game
tonight after he was injured on a check by Kyle Okposo in the first period
of Game 3.
Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green have each played seven Game 7s for
Washington. Ovechkin has two goals and two assists over those contests, while
Brooks Laich also has two goals and two helpers in six Game 7 appearances.
Johnny Boychuk leads the Islanders with seven Game 7 appearances — all of
which came with the Bruins. The defenseman has a goal and two assists in this
Halak is 2-0 with a 1.50 goals against average and .963 save percentage in
Game 7s. Holtby is 1-2 with a 2.64 GAA and .911 save percentage in his three
Game 7 starts.