Capitals dominate islanders with mentors in the building


ELMONT, NY — The crowd at the UBS Arena fell into a stunned silence, adding to the cheers that erupted from Suite 36 on Saturday night. It was there that a group of the Washington Capitals fathers and mentors had gathered for their annual trip with the team ahead of a crucial matchup with the New York Islanders, and after TJ Oshie scored the go-ahead goal late in the first half, some of they yelled and climbed down from their seats to hit each other with their fists.

With their playoff chances teetering, the Capitals seemed energized by the presence of their loved ones during a stunning 5-1 win – and almost every one of their elders had something to celebrate. That included after Oshie’s goal, which followed a surgical pass in the offensive zone, from Sonny Milano to Trevor van Riemsdyk and Rasmus Sandin, who neatly carried the puck from the left circle to the front of the circle for Oshie to scoop it into the open net could .

“It was easy to stand up for that one,” Oshie said.

Washington was aggressive throughout, but especially in the first 40 minutes, when they shared 20 goals and blocked 14 shots in front of goalkeeper Darcy Kuemper (17 saves). The Capitals also killed five penalties and on ice knocked out the Islanders 27-18 in their most complete performance in weeks to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive with 15 games to go.

“It was probably the most complete game, with everyone pitching in and everyone pulling the rope,” Oshie said. “You never know what can happen. We will fight back.”

With Sandin’s father Patric present after arriving from Sweden, the 23-year-old defender continued to look like a significant acquisition, finishing with three main assists. He flashed onto the top defensive pairing, quartered the power play and, after the Islanders went 1-0 through a Pierre Engvall goal in the first period, he capitalized on a deft backhand pass from the gangs to turn Prepare a goal by Dylan Strome at 6:41. He fed Oshie in the last minute of the half, giving Sandin his third multi-point game since being acquired by the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 28. He has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his first four games with Washington.

Also in attendance on Saturday night was Anthony Mantha’s father, Daniel Pronovost, who wore his son’s custom-made Letterman jacket, which he received ahead of a game earlier this season. He watched his son sneak around on the power play early in the third half to break a 19-game goal drought. Across from Mantha was Alex Ovechkin, who accepted a pass on the doorstep and attempted to smack a shot across the pad from Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (22 saves) before collecting his own rebound and pushing the puck to Mantha, who at 4:15 met . Mantha shook both fists and seemed to breathe a sigh of relief after scoring for the first time since New Year’s Eve.

“I think that offense can often inspire confidence in a player,” said Capitals coach Peter Laviolette. “So it’s good to get a few people on the board and see if they move that forward.”

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New York had outplayed their opponents 17-1 in the third period of their last 10 games, but the Islanders were hampered at every turn by Kuemper on Saturday. The Capitals remained relentless in the closing minutes. Nic Dowd sniped after a turnover at 12:18 of the third, and centermate Nicklas Backstrom deflected a Sandin point shot past Varlamov at 13:19.

That sent the home crowd for the exit, but the party in Suite 36 was just getting started. Some of the dads grabbed their beers and headed downstairs to wait for their capitals to come off the ice. As the players and their mentors descended into the dressing room to celebrate, Dowd stopped to greet his brother Josh and father Alan. He joked that he was going to call security, then burst out laughing.

“Well done, Dad!” he yelled before hugging his father.

Here’s what else you should know about the Capitals win:

Extension for van Riemsdyk

The Capitals further solidified their defense for next season by granting van Riemsdyk a three-year, $3 million-a-year contract extension. Washington now has four blue-liners under contract for next season; van Riemsdyk joins John Carlson, Sandin and Nick Jensen who signed an extension late last month. Co-defenders Alexander Alexeyev and Martin Fehervary are said to be restricted free agents.

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Washington’s defense received a boost with the return of Jensen and Fehervary after missing the previous three games. Washington had relied heavily on callups in her absence, including Gabriel Carlsson, who had a healthy scratch Saturday, and Vincent Iorio, who was sent back to the team’s American League Hockey affiliate in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The returns from Jensen and Fehervary brought stability to the backend and relieved pressure – especially for Sandin and van Riemsdyk, who had recorded strong minutes in the last three games.

“He’s helped me a lot since the first game, since the first training session,” Sandin said of van Riemsdyk. “We’re just having a lot of fun out there.” Capitals dominate islanders with mentors in the building

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