Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) – Evgeny Kuznetsov had two goals and an assist and the Washington Capitals thumped the New York Islanders, 5-1, in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
Karl Alzner and Jason Chimera posted a goal and an assist, and Brooks Laich added a goal for the Capitals, who now hold a 3-2 lead in this best-of-seven series. Braden Holtby turned aside 22 shots in the win.
The Capitals will have their first chance to close the game out on Saturday as Game 6 will be hosted by the Islanders.
Josh Bailey had the only goal of the game for the Islanders, who pulled Jaroslav Halak from the net after he allowed five goals on 35 shots. Michal Neuvirth stopped all six shots he faced in relief.
“I’m not disappointed with the guys,” said New York head coach Jack Capuano. “I mean they battled. We talk about it all the time, and it’s coming back to haunt us now. You have to manage the puck.”
The Islanders took the initial lead in the game as Nick Leddy pinched in from the left point to chip the puck along the boards. John Tavares one-touched the puck to the left circle and Bailey snapped it in for his second of the series at 5:48 of the first.
Washington, though, tied the game just over three minutes later as a left circle faceoff win saw the team work the puck down low and Kuznetsov bat it in out of the air from the right side.
“When I scored and I heard how loud it was in the stadium, I just felt crazy,” said Kuznetsov. “I want to say to the fans thanks for coming to the game today. It’s louder in our stadium than it was at the Islanders game. I hope we’ll see you in the next round.”
Halak was able to keep the game tied about seven minutes into the second as he made a great save on a Kuznetsov shot from the low right side, but the Caps went up a bit later.
A turnover in the Isles end enabled Troy Brouwer to get a shot off from the right side that Halak stopped, but Brouwer was able to dig the puck from under Halak’s glove as the goaltender tried to smother the puck. Skating around the left side of the net, Brouwer centered the puck and Alzner one-timed it in for his second of the series and a 2-1 lead with 9:29 to play in the second.
Washington blew the game open in the third with three goals in a little over six minutes.
The first goal came at 2:42 as a rebound came out to the slot and Laich snapped it in for his first of the series.
Washington took a 4-1 lead on Kuznetsov’s second of the game at 6:19 as he took a pass at the blueline and got behind the defense, slipping a backhand between the pads of Halak.
The Capitals chased Halak from the net at the nine-minute mark when Chimera one-timed a shot from the left circle that snuck in for a 5-1 lead.
New York forward Mikhail Gravoski played for the first time since suffering a concussion on Feb. 19 … Neither side scored on the power play as New York had two chances and Washington three … Jay Beagle and Marcus Johansson each posted two assists for the Capitals … New York, which hasn’t made it out of the first round since 1993, has won five of the six playoff series against Washington.