By Kerry Gwydir
The Islanders blew a big opportunity to pick up points in the playoff chase and suffered a dispiriting defeat, 5-2, at the hands of the Capitals tonight in Washington.
"Very disappointing," Islanders head coach Brad Shaw called it. "We have to re-group and be ready for New Jersey at the Coliseum tomorrow night."
The Caps were led by Alex Ovechkin, who had a pair of second-period tallies including one with .5 left in the stanza -- and defenseman Bryan Muir, who had two goals in the third period. The Islanders had closed the gap to 4-3 with an early goal by a rushing Joel Bouchard in the third, but Washington put the game away.
Failed chances by the Islanders on the power play in the first period led to the first goal of the game at the 2:27 mark when Washington's Alex Ovechkin notched his 40th of the season after an Islander giveaway at center ice. The Washington rookie wristed a shot from the left faceoff dot through Brad Lukowich's legs and past Snow.
Shaw's team broke through at the 7:25 mark of the second when Arron Asham converted his 9th of the season and first since Jan. 19. A pretty play by Alexei Yashin was the key to this goal as he fought off three Caps to find Asham at the far post. Asham managed to fight off the checking of Zubrus to find a lane to the Washington goal.
Jeff Friesen put the hosts back on top with 9:29 to go in the second as another misplay by the Isles led to a goal. This time, they failed to clear their own end of the ice, which led to a 2-on-1 in front of Snow and Friesen having a clear lane to tuck home Jakub Klepi's goalmouth feed.
In the final minute of the second, Yashin's injury occurred when he went falling into the Capital's end boards. As that was happening, the skate of defenseman Ivan Majevsky slid right across the side of the Islander captain's face. Yashin left the ice on his own power followed by Islanders' trainer Rich Campbell.
With .5 ticks left in the second, Ovechkin popped home his second of the game off a faceoff in the Islander end of the ice. The Islanders got caught standing around as Mike Green's centering pass made it through three Islanders onto the stick of Ovechkin, who was left unchecked to Snow's left.
The Islanders out-shot Washington, 42-33 for the game, but it wasn't enough.
(12) Oleg Kvasha-(79) Alexei Yashin-(45) Arron Asham
(81) Miroslav Satan-(16) Mike York-(7) Trent Hunter
(55) Jason Blake-(17) Shawn Bates-(37) Mark Parrish
(10) Sean Bergenheim-(28) Wyatt Smith-(21) Robert Nilsson
(4) Joel Bouchard-(25) Brad Lukowich
(77) Alexei Zhitnik-(3) Brent Sopel
(14) Chris Campoli-(44) John Erskine
(30) Garth Snow
(39) Rick DiPietro
(8) Alex Ovechkin-(9) Dainius Zubrus-(17) Chris Clark
(10) Matt Bradley-((16) Brian Sutherby-(27) Ben Clymer
(41) Jeff Friesen-(38) Jakub Klepis-(21) Brooks Laich
(24) Brian Willsie-(11) Jeff Halpern-(18) Matt Pettinger
(47) Bryan Muir-(44) Steve Eminger
(19) Brendan Witt-(52) Mike Green
(26) Shaone Morrisonn-(23) Ivan Majevsky
(37) Olie Kolzig
(1) Brent Johnson