New York Islanders goaltender Jaroslav Halak allowed a rather weak game-winner in overtime of Game 4, but he came back with a miraculous save in Game 5 that robbed Evgeny Kuznetsov. Though there have been goals Halak certainly would have wanted back in this series, his save on Kuznetsov makes up for some of those.
There have been goals in the first-round series between the Capitals and Islanders that New York goaltender Jaroslav Halak wishes he could have had back. But in the second period of Game 5, Halak made an outstanding stop on Evgeny Kuznetsov that kept the score locked at 1-1.
After Islanders defenseman Griffin Reinhart made an ill-advised pinch at the blueline, Kuznetsov broke up ice on a 2-on-1 with Jason Chimera. Kuznetsov found the trailing man, defenseman Mike Green, for the first attempt on goal, but it was Halak’s second stop that was the real beauty.
With Kuznetsov alone at the side of the net, Marcus Johansson found him with a perfect tape-to-tape pass, which Halak somehow managed to slide across and knock down with his glove hand. Check out the video below, specifically at the twelve-second mark, and look at how wide open the net was for Kuznetsov before Halak shut the door:
The stop was revenge of sorts for Halak, as earlier in the game he had been beaten by Kuznetsov for a tally that brought the Capitals even, tying the score 1-1. And about three minutes after the save on Kuznetsov, Halak allowed a controversial goal to Karl Alzner after Troy Brouwer managed to work a puck free from Halak’s glove — a puck that Halak believed was frozen and should have resulted in the play being blown dead.
Were it not for Halak’s play through two periods, it’s likely the Capitals would have been ahead by a score much greater than 2-1. Heading into the third, Washington was outshooting the Islanders 29-18 and had controlled the play for nearly the entire game.
Heading into Game 5, the two teams were tied two games apiece in the first-round series.