Johnny Boychuk shuts down Alexander Ovechkin, holding the Capitals’ star to just three shots.
John Tavares’ goal just 15 seconds into overtime will stand as the lasting memory from Sunday afternoon’s Game 3 victory, but he wasn’t the only game-changer for the Islanders.
After playing poorly in Friday’s Game 2, defenseman Johnny Boychuk rebounded on Sunday with probably his best game as an Islander, leading all skaters with 26:23 of ice time and a plus-two rating . More importantly, he helped keep five-time goal-scoring champ Alex Ovechkin to just three shots.
With Travis Hamonic (apparent knee injury) out, Boychuk and partner Nick Leddy gave Ovechkin no space to make plays and were physical with the Russian winger.
“Without (Hamonic) in the lineup, (Boychuk’s matchup with Ovechkin) is really important,” coach Jack Capuano said. “You take Hamonic out of your lineup… you rely on Johnny and Johnny did a great job. He’s a big body. He played a lot of hard minutes for us tonight.… I thought overall, it was a really good game by (Boychuk), no question.”
Boychuk’s masterful performance was never more evident than at the end of the second period. With Brian Strait serving a high-sticking penalty with 1:20 left in regulation and nursing a 1-0 lead, Boychuk essentially chewed up the clock by himself, blocking three shots before taking the puck from Ovechkin with a diving play just before the buzzer.
SLASHING: Ahead of renovations that will close Nassau Coliseum for the summer, 40 full-time and 2,500 part-time employees were given notice last Thursday of their lay-off. It is not known if the workers will be rehired, especially with the Islanders headed to Brooklyn in the fall.
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