Islanders coach Barry Trotz typically keeps his defense pairs steady. But there was plenty of mixing-and-matching in Friday night’s 5-2 win over the Capitals in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
The starting pairs of Adam Pelech with Ryan Pulock, Devon Toews with Scott Mayfield and Andy Greene — playing his fifth straight game for Johnny Boychuk — with Nick Leddy morphed into different combinations quickly in the first period.
Leddy spent time with Pulock and Mayfield. Pelech was paired with Greene. And Pulock took some shifts with Toews.
“I liked what we did,” Trotz said. “We tried to even our minutes a little bit. There were certain guys we felt were playing really well versus certain opponents. We have flexibility with our defense. They’re all capable of playing against good lines.”
Leddy, with 22:11 of ice time, including 3:14 on the power play, was the only defenseman to log more than 20 minutes.
Eller returns for Capitals
Center Lars Eller was a minus-four with two shots and a 6-for-19 performance in the faceoff circle in 21:29 as he returned to the Capitals’ lineup after completing his quarantine. Eller left the Toronto bubble for the birth of his son. He went in for top-line center Nicklas Backstrom, who was concussed on a hit from Anders Lee in Game 1.
Capitals coach Todd Reirden was unsure whether Backstrom will be available for Sunday’s Game 3. “We’re hoping that’s the case,” he said. “But at this point I can’t comment on that.”
Josh Bailey’s assist on Leddy’s power-play goal gave him a career-high seven postseason points . . . Anthony Beauvillier’s secondary assist on Leddy’s goal gave him a six-game point streak to start the postseason. He became the first Islander to do so since Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy in 1981 . . . Jean-Gabriel Pageau had two assists and won 17 of 23 faceoffs.