After his team gave up leads twice on powerplay goals by the Capitals, Jason Blake used the man-advantage to put the Islanders up for good, on the way to a 5-3 win at the Coliseum Tuesday.
The Islanders had control of the ice for most of the first period, but a bench penalty for too many men enabled Washington to break the scoreless tie. Playing with the extra man, the Capitals worked the puck around the offensive zone, setting up Pettinger for a one-timed slapshot from the point. Willsie was waiting at the edge of the crease, and redirected the puck past Rick DiPietro for a 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, a rush started by a smooth two-zone pass from Brad Lukowich allowed the Islanders to tie things up. Taking the puck into the Caps' zone, Shawn Bates fed an oncoming Kvasha across the ice. The big winger broke a stick check by Brooks Laich and ripped a wrister that beat Kolzig to the short side to knot the game at one goal apiece.
The end of the first period was delayed when Kevin Colley got tangled up with Washington's Jamie Heward, and crashed into the top of the boards head-first, sustaining a neck injury. Colley immediately waved to the bench for the trainer, and after being checked out, was helped from the ice by his teammates. He went to the hospital for further evaluation.
Playing with the remaining time on Brent Sopel's first-period delay-of-game penalty, Matt Pettinger and Brian Willsie hooked up again, switching roles on the Caps' second goal. Standing on the goal line, Willsie tossed the puck across the crease, where Pettinger took a swing and chipped it up and over Rick DiPietro, just 44 seconds into the second period.
Once again though, Kvasha pulled his team back from a deficit, picking up his second goal of the night. Positioned at the left faceoff dot, Kvasha took advantage of a loose puck and an unprepared goaltender, by spinning and firing a hard shot through Olie Kolzig's legs.
Five minutes into the third, the Islanders took their first lead of the game, thanks to their best line of late. Jason Blake took a penalty earlier in the period by driving toward the Caps' net, but Trent Hunter managed to turn the same move into a scoring play by putting a backhand off Kolzig's legpad. Following up on Hunter's drive, Miro Satan flicked the rebound into the top left corner of the net for a 3-2 advantage.
But, as was the trend Tuesday, the game was quickly tied again, with the Caps playing the comeback kids. Mike York and Brad Lukowich both failed to clear the puck during a blueline scramble, allowing Ivan Majesky to tee-up a point shot on DiPietro. The rebound dropped right in the crease, where Jeff Friesen was available for a tap-in.
With 4:43 left on the clock in regulation, the Islanders were able to convert on the powerplay for the first time, with Shaone Morrison in the box for hooking. Carrying the puck out from behind the Caps' goal, Alexei Yashin drew the defense to him, opening up the right side of the ice. Filling the open space quickly was Blake, who took a crisp pass from Yashin and tucked it into the top of the net, popping Kolzig's water bottler off the top of the goal.
Washington pulled their goalie in an attempt to tie the game, but Blake potted another goal, scoring on an empty net with 12 seconds left The win put the Islanders on a three-game winning streak, tying their longest run of the season.
OFF THE ICE: Three Stars of the Night: 1. Jason Blake, 2. Oleg Kvasha, 3. Miroslav Satan... For the Islanders, Garth Snow (knee), John Erskine (healthy), Tomi Pettinen (healthy), and Petteri Nokelainen (knee) were scratched, while the Capitals sat Alex Ovechkin (healthy), Dainius Zubrus (healthy), Matt Bradley (healthy) and Steve Eminger (lower body)... The Islanders evened their season record at home with the win against the Capitals Tuesday... After two games of the four-game season series, the Islanders and Caps are tied at 1-1, with each team winning at home.
--additional reporting by Brian Bohl
Rick DiPietro on the importance the victory:
"It was a big win for us. I was a little nervous, but we pulled it out. I hope it helps our confidence. Tonight gives us a chance to sit back and realize things are going well and we'll try to continue to work hard going forward."
On the team's next game against the Rangers:
"Playing them is a good test. They have a lot of offensive punch, so we will have to do a good job of protecting the puck and play even better than we did tonight."
Jason Blake on the team-wide sense of relief thanks to the winning steak:
"When you don't score for a little bit, you start pressing. We did the little things tonight. Some of the pucks weren't going in for us, but now it's nice to win three in a row, especially with a tough opponent coming up."
On the momentum heading into the next game:
"It's a good feeling, but you have to the put the game behind you. They have the best player in the world in Jaromir Jagr. We need to play better to reach our goals and be competitive Thursday."
Miroslav Satan on the work with line-mates Mike York and Trent Hunter:
"We had many chances the whole game and we were playing well in the offensive zone, so sooner or later, you'll get some goals. Taking advantage of turnovers helped us win the game."
(55) Jason Blake-(79) Alexei Yashin-(45) Arron Asham
(7) Trent Hunter-(16) Mike York-(81) Miroslav Satan
(12) Oleg Kvasha-(17) Shawn Bates-(37) Mark Parrish
(11) Mattias Weinhandl-(62) Kevin Colley-(49) Eric Godard
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(14) Chris Campoli-(24) Radek Martinek
(4) Joel Bouchard-(25) Brad Lukowich
(39) Rick DiPietro
(34) Wade Dubielewicz
(21) Brooks Laich-(41) Jeff Friesen-(17) Chris Clark
(18) Matt Pettinger-(11) Jeff Halpern-(24) Brian Willsie
(36) Colin Forbes-(15) Boyd Gordon
(27) Ben Clymer-(16) Brian Sutterby
(52) Mike Green-(19) Brendan Witt
(23) Ivan Majesky-(26) Shaone Morrisonn
(6) Jamie Heward-(47) Bryan Muir
(40) Nolan Yonkman-(34) Mathieu Biron
(37) Olie Kolzig
(1) Brent Johnson