Valtteri Filppula, who missed the previous eight games due to injury, scored twice Saturday night and goalie Robin Lehner stopped all 29 shots he faced as the New York Islanders clinched home-ice advantage in the playoffs for the first time in more than 30 years with a 3-0 win over the host Washington Capitals. With the win, the Islanders (48-27-7) locked up third place in the Metropolitan Division and home ice against the Pittsburgh Penguins for a first-round postseason series. It is the first time New York has held home ice since the 1987-88 season, which was the longest active home drought among the four major North American sports leagues.
The shutout also ensured the Islanders would allow the fewest goals in the league after allowing the most last season, when they missed the playoffs by 17 points. Lehner's shutout was his career-high sixth and the team-record 11th of the season, which mounted the biggest turnaround in the NHL under new general manager Lou Lamoriello and new head coach Barry Trotz, the latter of whom steered the Capitals to the Stanley Cup last spring.
The Capitals (48-26-8), who rested regulars Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson and T.J. Oshie, as well as top goalie Braden Holtby one night after clinching their fourth straight Metropolitan Division crown, will begin their defense of the first Stanley Cup in franchise history against the Carolina Hurricanes. The NHL will announce the schedule for the Eastern and Western Conference quarterfinals Sunday morning.
Filppula scored early in the second period and again shortly after the midway point of the third. Matt Martin iced the victory with an empty-net goal with 2:33 left. Goalie Pheonix Copley made 21 saves for the Capitals.
After a scoreless first period, the Islanders went ahead on a breakaway goal by Filppula early in the second. Devon Toews fired an outlet pass from the faceoff circle in the New York zone that hit Filppula in stride at the Capitals' blue line. With defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler a few steps behind, Filppula shuffled the puck before beating Copley from point-blank range.
--Field Level Media
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