With how physical the series between the Capitals and Islanders has been, it’s not surprising that the game-winning goal was scored seconds after a huge hit. Washington’s Alex Ovechkin caught New York’s John Tavares with a questionable hit before the puck ended up on the tape of Nikolay Kulemin, who made no mistake and potted the game-winning goal.
Entering the third period of what could very well be the final game at Nassau Coliseum, the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals were tied 1-1. Through the first 10 minutes of the final frame, the two squads traded chances, but it wasn’t until after a massive, questionable hit by Alex Ovechkin that the Islanders grabbed the lead.
Just after the midway mark of the third, with John Tavares chasing the puck into the Washington zone and dealing with back pressure from Karl Alzner, Ovechkin finished a check on Tavares that left the Isles’ captain laying on the ice. Following the violent hit, however, the puck found its way to New York blueliner Nick Leddy who made an outstanding pass to Nikolay Kulemin who patiently waited out Braden Holtby to bury what stood as the game-winning goal:
Kulemin’s marker was his first of the post-season and the first playoff goal of his career, and it couldn’t have come at a bigger moment. The goal that put the Islanders up 2-1 held as the game-winning marker before Cal Clutterbuck added an empty net goal to seal Game 6 for New York.
As for Tavares, following the goal he was able to get back to his feet and join in on the celebration and didn’t miss any of his subsequent shifts.
With the win, the Islanders force Game 7, which will be played Monday night in Washington. If the Capitals can close out the series in the seventh game, Saturday’s tilt will have been the final game played at Nassau Coliseum, as the Islanders are set to move to Brooklyn at the beginning of next season.