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Islanders shut down Capitals in Game 5 to win series and advance

Anthony Beauvillier of the Islanders is congratulated by

Anthony Beauvillier of the Islanders is congratulated by his teammates after scoring his second goal of the game against the Capitals at 9:33 during the second period in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on Thursday in Toronto, Ontario. Credit: Getty Images/Elsa

The Capitals couldn’t get through the Island.

So the Islanders are now through to the second round.

Anthony Beauvillier scored twice as the Islanders closed out their first-round series against Barry Trotz’s former team with a 4-0 win in Thursday night’s Game 5 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.

“It’s a great win for us,” said right wing Josh Bailey, who set up both of Beauvillier’s goals and capped the scoring at 18:31 of the third period with the Islanders’ second empty-net goal 44 seconds after Nick Leddy flipped a backhander from the defensive zone to make it 3-0. “We’re happy to move on. But you turn the page. Everyone realizes there’s still a long way to go.”

If the Flyers can eliminate the Canadiens, the Islanders will face the Eastern Conference’s top seed in the second round. The Flyers lead that series 3-2 heading into Friday’s Game 6. If the Canadiens rally to eliminate the Flyers, the Islanders will face the Bruins because the NHL is re-seeding each round.

“I’m just very happy about our team going to the next round,” said Semyon Varlamov, who made 21 saves for his first playoff shutout since 2009, when he was with the Capitals. “It wasn’t an easy one. Every game was a battle.”

But the Islanders ultimately were too dominant at even strength; only three of the Capitals’ eight goals in the series came five-on-five. With their season on the line Thursday, the Capitals were held to seven shots in the third period.

Only three Capitals scored in the series, with Alex Ovechkin netting four goals and Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie two apiece. That trio was limited to five shots in Game 5.

“For whatever reason, our team wasn’t able to mentally and physically get to our game for long enough,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said.

Plus the Islanders were 1-for-3 on the power play after going 1-for-19 in the first four games. That included going 0-for-5 (albeit with 12 shots) in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss in Game 4 as the Capitals staved off elimination by rallying from a two-goal deficit.

“We said it was going to come,” said Beauvillier, who deposited the rebound of Brock Nelson’s initial shot on the power play to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 10:19 of the first period. “It was good to get one today. It’s going to be huge moving forward.”

Beauvillier extended the Islanders’ lead to 2-0 at 9:33 of the second period after Bailey stickhandled through two defenders coming into the Capitals’ zone and slid a backhand feed that freed Beauvillier to get to the crease for a backhander.

It’s the Islanders’ second playoff series win under Trotz — not counting a four-game win over the Panthers in the best-of-five qualifying series unique to this postseason — after he led the Capitals to the Stanley Cup in 2018 and then switched jobs two weeks later. Last season, the Islanders swept the Penguins in the first round and then were swept by the Hurricanes.

On Nov. 26, 2018, Trotz accepted his Cup ring from the Capitals before a game at Barclays Center and addressed his former team, telling them, “You can do it again. You’ll have to go through the [expletive] Island, OK?”

Instead, the Capitals under Reirden have been eliminated in the first round two straight years. Trotz shared a brief, unemotional handshake with his former associate coach, one that was in sharp contrast with the warmth he showed to his former players on the traditional handshake line.

Later, he described his “split” emotions during the season and said he will always view the Capitals as “champions.”

“It was motivation for us, too,” Bailey said. “We’re happy to get it done.”

New York Sports