While Barry Trotz was getting closure on his tenure with the Capitals as he received his Stanley Cup ring and faced his former team for the first time, the Islanders were judging themselves on how far they’ve progressed under their new coach.
The quick analysis: Trotz misses Alex Ovechkin on the power play, and the Islanders showed the champions too much respect.
“In the first period, we kind of let them dictate play,” said left wing Matt Martin, back in the lineup after a 10-game absence because of an upper-body injury. “I think we gave them a little too much respect. We didn’t really play our game.”
The Islanders had their two-game winning streak snapped in a 4-1 loss to the Metropolitan Division-leading Capitals on Monday night at Barclays Center.
They went 0-for-4 with six shots on the power play, leaving them 0-for-11 in the past five games.
The Capitals (14-7-3), who have won six straight, shut out the Islanders (12-9-2) over the final 59:24.
“It’s a measuring stick in the sense that they’re the Stanley Cup champs, they’re at the top of the division,” captain Anders Lee said. “But we’ve played some great teams all year. We kind of know who we are, and we can play with anybody.”
Thomas Greiss, making his third consecutive start, had 20 saves as the Islanders dropped to 9-2-0 against division opponents. Braden Holtby stopped 32 shots for the Capitals and Tom Wilson scored twice.
Wilson’s power-play goal at 14:21 of the third period effectively clinched it for the Capitals after the Islanders killed off a five-on-three power play that lasted 1 minute, 30 seconds. Thomas Hickey tripped Nicklas Backstrom at 12:34 with Tanner Fritz already in the penalty box.
“They’re a good team, they play well defensively and their goalie played well,” said center Valtteri Filppula, who scored on a backhander from the low slot 36 seconds into the game and has seven goals on 21 shots this season. “We had some power-play chances that were close a couple of times but just didn’t go in.”
The Islanders are in fourth place in a tight divisional race, five points behind the Capitals and only four points out of last place.
The Islanders went 2-2-0 in a stretch of four games in six days, all against division opponents.
“I didn’t feel we had as much juice as the other games, we just didn’t,” Trotz said. “We were a little tired. We didn’t have our legs underneath us that we usually have when we’re fresh.”
Wilson, who has scored at least one goal in four straight games and has 12 points in eight games since returning from a suspension, tied it at 1 at 2:50 of the first period with an unscreened shot from the right circle through Greiss’ pads.
Nic Dowd made it 2-1 at 7:58 of the second with a snap shot over Greiss’ left shoulder from the right circle.
Trotz, along with associate coach Lane Lambert and director of goaltending Mitch Korn, was presented his Cup ring in the Capitals’ dressing room before the game.
He called it “closure” on that chapter of his life but said there were no special emotions once the game began.
“No, not really,” Trotz said. “Just familiar faces. It was a special moment for everybody involved and then, after that, it was pretty much business as usual.”