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Islanders just need to keep plugging away at the all-familiar Capitals

Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier against the Washington

Islanders left wing Anthony Beauvillier against the Washington Capitals in the third period at Nassau Coliseum on April 22, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Friday was a day of review and reflection as the Islanders prepare for the second of three straight games against the Capitals on Saturday night at Nassau Coliseum.

What it was not was a day for major adjustments after the Capitals’ 1-0 shootout win on Thursday night at the Coliseum. At this point, the teams have just seen each other too many times.

"The tricks are limited," coach Barry Trotz said after the game (the Islanders did not practice Friday). "I look back at the pre-scout games. Usually we go three-deep. Then you look at your own games. All the tricks there, can you execute them or not? We’ll look at tape and see if we can make adjustments. They’re going to look at us and make some adjustments."

The teams also will play on Tuesday night in Washington.

The Capitals, who held an optional practice Friday, announced that Alex Ovechkin is day-to-day with a lower-body injury after exiting Thursday’s game late in the third period. Ovechkin is two goals shy of passing Marcel Dionne for fifth place on the NHL’s all-time list with 731.

The Capitals are atop the East Division with 64 points, one more than the Penguins and the Islanders. The Islanders are 2-3-1 against the Capitals this season.

"It’s going to be a tight game every time we play them," defenseman Nick Leddy said. "They’re a good team. They can play that tight defense like we can. They can open it up and play track meets. They’ve got a lot of high-end skill. They’re a good team, but so are we. Every time we play them, it’s a good measuring stick."

"You play so many times, the teams in our division," Anthony Beauvillier said. "We have nine games left this season and we see Washington the next two games again. It just comes down to playoff hockey. That’s what we saw, not a lot of space. The beauty of this is we have to play them again the next two games."

The teams have played two straight 1-0 games, including the Islanders’ win April 6 at the Coliseum, even if Thursday counts as a double shutout for the Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov and Capitals counterpart Ilya Samsonov.

Trotz has an interesting choice whether to go right back to Varlamov for a third straight game after he made 28 saves or turn the net back over to rookie Ilya Sorokin, who is coming off a 30-save effort in Sunday’s 1-0 win in Philadelphia.

A tipping point against the Capitals may be special teams.

The Islanders’ penalty kill was particularly good, allowing the Capitals’ top-ranked power play just two shots on three chances, and is 23-for-24 in the last 10 games.

But the Islanders’ power play mustered just two shots on a pair of third-period man advantages.

"We’ve got to deliver it," Trotz said. "They’re aggressive. When we had that pressure and did break it, we slowed it down. We let them reset, which is against all logic."

New York Sports