The Islanders earned one point Saturday night, but fell just short of a second, losing 3-2 in overtime to the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum.
Thomas Vanek gave the Islanders the lead with 1:51 to go in the third, but Nick Backstrom’s shorthanded goal forced OT, setting up Alex Ovechkin for the winner 2:07 into the extra frame.
“We sat back for no reason,” Vanek said. “We should have taken it to them for 60 minutes and not 59.”
The Islanders battled back from a one-goal deficit, scored twice in the third period, outshot the Capitals 39-30 and scored their first shorthanded goal since Oct. 26, making the loss even tougher to swallow for head coach Jack Capuano.
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “The effort was there tonight… It’s frustrating that it had to end that way.”
With the Capitals net empty and Mike Green in the box, Karl Alzner sent the puck down low to Jason Chimera, who chipped it out to an unguarded Backstrom in front of the net. The all star one-timed the puck past Anders Nilsson, tying the score with 48.9 seconds to go.
The Islanders still had a 4-on-3 power play for the first 50 seconds of overtime, but could not convert the winner. A minute after the penalty expired, Ovechkin chipped the puck to himself in the slot and batted in his 21st goal of the season, his fifth-career overtime winner against the Islanders.
There were other positives to take out of the game, as the Isles outhit the Caps 30-22 and won 58 percent of the faceoffs.
“We played on our toes,” Capuano said. “We were moving our feet, we were doing some good things and that’s a step in the right direction. Guys have to stick with it, they can’t get down and have to continue to believe.”
Midway through the game, Capitals grinder Aaron Volpatti broke the scoreless deadlock, banging a loose puck past rookie Anders Nilsson in a goal-mouth scramble. The Islanders responded with good pressure in the Capitals zone and had several grade-A chances, but puck-luck and the first goal eluded the Islanders.
Cal Clutterbuck put the Islanders on the board with a shorthanded breakaway four minutes into the third period. Clutterbuck made no mistake on his third goal of the season, streaking in and shooting five-hole on Braden Holtby.
Holtby finished with 37 saves, while Nilsson stopped 27 in his first start of the season. Calvin de Haan made his 2013-14 debut, blocking two shots and skating to an even rating over 20:07.
The Islanders wrap up a four-game homestand Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
New York Islanders Lines:
60 Kevin Poulin
Washington Capitals Lines:
90 Marcus Johansson – 19 Nicklas Backstrom – 8 Alex Ovechkin
16 Eric Fehr – 84 Mikhail Grabovski – 20 Troy Brouwer
25 Jason Chimera – 83 Jay Beagle – 42 Joel Ward
24 Aaron Volpatti – 10 Martin Erat – 43 Tom Wilson
27 Karl Alzner – 52 Mike Green
88 Nate Schmidt – 74 John Carlson
81 Dimitri Orlov – 23 Tyson Strachan
70 Braden Holtby