Kyle Okposo’s third period goal put the team on the board and forced overtime, but the New York Islanders lost 2-1 to the Washington Capitals in a shootout Thursday at Verizon Center.
Alex Ovechkin’s goal in the second round of the shootout held up, as Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby stopped Frans Nielsen, Brad Boyes and John Tavares in the breakaway competition. The Islanders earned one point in the standings, moving to 18-16-4 and up toseventh place in the East with 40 points.
“We’ll take the point,” Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano said. “With their goalie, I didn’t know if we were going to get one by him. He played real well. Now we’ve got Tampa on Saturday, and hopefully we’ll get two there.”
The game was scoreless through most of the first, as each team registered just five shots on goal. But Washington’s fifth proved to be the most fruitful, as Mike Green lit the lamp to make the score 1-0. With 12.9 seconds remaining, the Capitals defenseman came in the zone off a line change and picked up a loose puck. The shot changed speed on Evgeni Nabokov and went five-hole.
The game stayed 1-0 until late in the third period, but both teams had several chances to score in between. The Capitals pumped three shots on goal during a power play midway through the second but couldn’t find the insurance marker. Later in the middle frame, Nielsen deked around a defender and had a clear shot, but Holtby was equal to the task, making one of his 35 saves on the backhand attempt.
Nabokov made perhaps the finest of his 21 saves at the 12 minute mark into the third on a one-timer from Marcus Johansson in the right circle. Nabokov slid to his left to snare the puck with his glove and keep the Islanders within one.
The Islanders finally broke through with five minutes remaining in regulation. Josh Bailey stole a puck at the Washington blue line and wrapped all the way around the cage. He found Nielsen up high with a pass, and the centerman quickly angled the puck across the zone to Okposo, who blasted a one-timer to the back of the net.
“He’s moving his feet and playing hard,” Capuano said of Okposo. “We know what Kyle can do. As long as he keeps going like that, he’s going to continue that have success. That whole line played well.”
A delay of game penalty late in the third put the visitors on the man advantage, but they were unable to net the go-ahead goal. Tavares had a chance in the final minute but his stick shattered on the shot, and the game went into sudden death.
After a scoreless overtime, the teams headed to the shootout. Nabokov turned aside Matt Hendricks and Mike Ribeiro in the first and third rounds, but Ovechkin’s backhand in the middle round went over the Islanders netminder and in. The loss was the first for the Islanders this season in a shootout, after winning the previous three.
The Islanders return home for a tilt Saturday, April 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m.
Notes: The Islanders outshot the Capitals 36-22, and were led by Radek Martinek, Brad Boyes and Colin McDonald (four shots apiece) … Both teams went 0-for-2 on the power play … Matt Martin led the team with six hits … The Islanders won 22-of-50 faceoffs (44%), but were led by Kyle Okposo (6-of-7, 86%).
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