The New York Islanders extended their point streak to a season-high seven games with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals Saturday at Nassau Coliseum.
Frans Nielsen, John Persson and Cal Clutterbuck scored for the Islanders, who lost for only the second time in seven games (5-0-2). Despite scoring in regulation, Nielsen could not finish a stick-side shot on Braden Holtby in the bonus round, while Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson were also denied. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the game-decider for the Capitals.
“I give our guys full marks against a real good team here,” head coach Jack Capuano said. “We held some big guys in check and overall it was a good effort.”
The Islanders jumped on the Capitals early, opening up a 1-0 lead and outshooting their opponents 17-8 in the first period. Casey Cizikas set up Clutterbuck for the game’s first goal, sending a no-look, backhand pass out into the slot. Clutterbuck made no mistake, sliding his 12th of the season by Holtby.
The Capitals tied the score 2:36 into the second period, but the 1-1 draw did not last long, as Persson restored the Islanders lead 1:40 later with his first NHL goal. Persson joined a rush, took a pass from Travis Hamonic and snuck a backhander between the arm and body of the Capitals goaltender.
“It’s obviously something you think about as a goalscorer,” Persson said. “It feels good to have it over with and now I can continue playing.”
Nielsen gave the Islanders a two-goal lead midway through the second, one-timing a Josh Bailey feed on the power-play. With the assist, Bailey extended his point streak to four games (two goals, four assists).
Down 3-1, the Capitals refused to quit, scoring two quick goals – both off funky bounces – to tie the score. First, Nicklas Backstrom potted a rebound that caromed off of Calvin de Haan’s chest at 12:45, before Joel Ward batted in a giveaway 2:16 later.
“They scored on a couple of broken plays in front of the net,” Evgeni Nabokov said. “Other than that, I thought we played well.”
Nabokov made 26 saves in the loss, including four on Alex Ovechkin, the NHL’s leading goal scorer. Holtby stopped 35 shots in regulation, as well as all three in the shootout.
The Islanders finished the game without Michael Grabner and Calvin de Haan, who both left the game with injuries in the second period. De Haan briefly returned in the third period, but was unable to continue.
The Islanders travelled to Columbus following the loss, setting up a game with the Blue Jackets Sunday night at Nationwide Arena. Puck drop is at 6:00 p.m.
NOTES: The Islanders donated the jerseys off their backs to fans after the game Saturday… Clutterbuck led the Islanders with seven shots… Travis Hamonic led the Islanders with 28:04 TOI.