Evgeni Nabokov posted his second shutout of the season, as the Islanders held on for a 1-0 win over the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night at Verizon Center.
Nabokov made 22 saves and Andrew MacDonald scored the game-winner 2:16 into the third period, as the Islanders picked up their first win against the Caps this season. The Islanders penalty kill also played a big role in the win, going six-for-six against the league’s third-ranked power play, including a critical kill with 3:05 to play.
“In order to get the shutout, everybody pitches in,” Nabokov, who picked up his 13th win against the Capitals, said. “Our penalty kill did a great job to kill a lot of penalties against a good power play… Sometimes the luck has to be on your side too.”
The two high-octane offenses were locked in an uncharacteristically low-scoring game, with neither team breaking through after 40 minutes. MacDonald’s third-period goal – a hard shot from the point through traffic – proved to be all the Islanders needed.
“I had a lot of time [to wind up],” MacDonald said. “I knew our guy went to the front of the net and created a great screen. The goalie went down a little early and it found the back of the net.”
The point shot was the only puck to beat Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth, who made 27 saves in the loss and stymied the Islanders on several grade-A chances. Neuvirth stopped Michael Grabner on a shorthanded penalty shot midway through the third period, and denied Kyle Okposo on a late two-on-one opportunity.
“It’s a good win for our team,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “We’re a desperate team and I thought our guys worked hard tonight right from the start. I thought we defended real well, we were structured tonight and guys played hard.”
The Metropolitan Division rivals played with an edge, as both teams sent at least eight skaters to the penalty box. Matt Martin and Tyson Strachan dropped the gloves early in the first period and both teams threw the body all night. The Islanders out hit the Capitals 36-22 by the final horn.
The Islanders head back to Long Island for their final two games before the Olympic break, as they host the Calgary Flames on Thursday night at Nassau Coliseum. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
NOTES: Andrew MacDonald led the Islanders with 23:27 TOI… Cal Clutterbuck led the Islanders with seven hits… Michael Grabner led the Islanders with four shots on goal… The Islanders had five shorthanded shots while the Capitals had none… Both teams had seven power-play shots.