|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET23:00 GMT7:00 4:00 PM MST6:00 PM EST3:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ET20:00 BRT, April 6, 2019
Capital One Arena, Washington, District of Columbia Attendance: 18,506
Islanders will settle for second vs. Caps
New York Islanders at Washington Capitals
- All three meetings between the clubs this season have been won by the visiting team -- two by the Capitals, one by the Islanders. The home teams have scored a total of two goals in the three games to nine by the visitors.
- The Islanders have neither won nor lost as many as three consecutive games since February 7 -- February 10, when they took three straight. They are 12-10-1 since February 20, including 2-5-0 against teams that have clinched playoff berths.
- The Caps are playoff-bound for the fifth straight season and 11th in the last 12; they have secured a fourth consecutive division title and the club's ninth in the last dozen years. Washington's streak of five straight 100-point campaigns is the longest active string in the NHL.
- Alex Ovechkin has his eighth 50-goal season and his first since 2015-16. Ovechkin has notched 89 points this season, his highest total since 2009-10, when he totaled 109 points. His 33 even-strength goals are also the most he's put up since 2009-10 (37).
- Brock Nelson scored his 25th goal of the season in Thursday's shootout win in Florida. He is one goal away from tying his career high of 26, set three years ago, and has established a career best with 53 points.
- After four straight playoff appearances and a Stanley Cup with the Caps, Barry Trotz has led NYI to the postseason in his first season behind their bench. He and the man who replaced him in Nashville, Peter Laviolette, are assured of being the only coaches to reach the postseason in each of the last five years.
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The New York Islanders' division championship drought was extended to 30 seasons Thursday night. But the Islanders can finally end another epic drought Saturday night, when they visit the Washington Capitals in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Each squad was off Friday following pivotal 2-1 wins Thursday, when the Islanders edged the host Florida Panthers in the shootout and the Capitals beat the visiting Montreal Canadiens in regulation.
The win by the Capitals (48-25-8) locked up their fourth straight Metropolitan Division championship and brought an end to one decades-long pursuit for the Islanders (47-27-7), who needed Washington to lose to have a chance to win the division Saturday night.
The Islanders have not won a division crown since they won the Patrick Division in 1987-88, when the NHL only had 21 teams. Among the 98 teams in the four major North American pro sports leagues, only the NHL's Edmonton Oilers have a longer division championship drought. The Oilers haven't won a division since the 1986-87 season, when they finished atop the Smythe Division.
However, the victory by the Islanders locked up at least a top-three finish in the Metropolitan Division, kept them in second place and ensured they could clinch home-ice advantage in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals with a win or overtime loss on Saturday night.
The Islanders enter Saturday two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who visit the New York Rangers. If the two teams finish tied, the Penguins will earn the No. 2 seed and home ice by virtue of having one more regulation or overtime win (43 with a win Saturday).
The Islanders have not had home ice advantage in a playoff series since spring 1988 -- the longest home-ice/home-court/home-field advantage drought among any of the 98 North American pro sports teams that existed in 1988.
"We didn't want to fall to a wild-card position, we still wanted to have hope that we could battle on the last game with 'Wash,'" said Islanders head coach Barry Trotz, who directed the Capitals to the first Stanley Cup in franchise history last year before joining New York. The Islanders missed the playoffs by 17 points in 2017-18, then captain John Tavares signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs as a free agent.
"We've still got something to play for, which is good for our group. It's easy to play for nothing. It doesn't take anything. There's no weight on your mind."
The win by the Capitals on Thursday, meanwhile, freed their minds a bit heading into the regular-season finale. Washington is locked into having the home-ice advantage in the first two rounds, should it advance that far.
"It's certainly been a battle, right up until the 81st game that it's decided," Capitals head coach Todd Reirden said Thursday night. "I'm really proud of our team in going through some ups and downs during the season, and eventually winning (the division) is a big accomplishment for our fans. And obviously the home ice advantage -- love playing here, love the fans."
Neither the Islanders nor Capitals will know who they will play in the first round until the conclusion of Saturday night's NHL schedule. New York could face the Penguins or the Carolina Hurricanes while Washington could face the Penguins, Hurricanes or Columbus Blue Jackets.
--Field Level Media
Updated April 6, 2019