Donald Brashear scored the game-winning goal at 6:50 of the third period, and the Washington Capitals went on to defeat the Islanders, 5-2, Thursday night at Verizon Center. Despite fighting back from a 2-0 deficit, the Islanders lost for the third time in four games.
"When you're not playing well, things add up," said Islanders Head Coach Scott Gordon. "It's almost like we got what we deserved. We didn't deserve the breaks tonight."
The Capitals opened the scoring with a power-play marker midway through the first period. With time winding down on the man advantage, Milan Jurcina sent a pass to Alex Ovechkin alone on the left side. Ovechkin snapped a shot from the face-off dot that beat Islanders goaltender Joey MacDonald through his 5-hole at 11:31. Brooks Laich was credited with a secondary assist on the play.
Washington extended its lead with another power-play tally less than two minutes later. Thomas Pock was called for interference, giving the Capitals their third power play of the period. Sami Lepisto zipped a pass along the blue line to fellow defenseman Bryan Helmer. Helmer took a 60-foot wrist shot that was redirected in front by Viktor Kozlov for his fifth goal of the season at 13:15.
"From my side of it, I didn't see us pressuring like we're accustomed to," remarked Gordon. "I didn't see us getting to the right places like we should."
The Islanders responded with a power-play goal of their own in the final minute of the opening period. Michael Nylander took a holding penalty, giving the Islanders their first full power-play opportunity of the game. Bill Guerin won the ensuing face-off to Doug Weight, who threw a pass back to Streit at the blue line. Streit then snapped a shot as Trent Hunter screened Capitals goaltender Brent Johnson in front. The puck floated past Johnson's left shoulder for Streit's fifth power-play goal of the season, and sixth overall.
Weight and Guerin each earned helpers on the goal. With the assist, Weight is now eight points shy of 1,000 career NHL points.
The Islanders had the game-tying goal disallowed on another wacky play at the start of the second period. Following a neutral zone face-off, Chris Campoli slapped a dump attempt toward the Washington end. The puck deflected off linesman Tony Sericolo's right skate and into the Captials' net, which had been vacated by Johnson as he went to play the initial shot. The goal was immediately called off due to a rule that says the puck can't go into the net off an official's skate. The Islanders didn't argue the decision.
MacDonald was spectacular in the middle frame, denying the Capitals on several opportunities to keep the Islanders in the game. First, he stopped Laich on a shorthanded, 2-on-1 rush. Then, he denied Keith Aucoin on a breakaway midway through the period.
Hunter finally tied the game following a penalty kill later in the period. Andy Sutton exited the penalty box, and pressured Lepisto as he tried to take possession in his own zone. Sutton stole the puck behind the net and sent a pass to Hunter, who was flying down the slot unguarded. Hunter one-timed the puck past Johnson for his team-leading 11th goal of the season at 13:38.
"Obviously, it was an opportune bounce in their zone," said Sutton. "I knocked the guy (Lepisto) down and found Huntsy in front of the net. It worked out well."
Brashear scored the game-winner when Karl Alzner slapped a shot off that went off the end boards and out front to MacDonald. MacDonald couldn't find the puck as it trickled to the far end of the crease, and Brashear poked it home for his first tally of the season. Jurcina earned his second assist of the night on the goal.
"The fact that we came back was great," said Gordon. "But it's only great if you build on it in the third period. And we didn't."
The Capitals padded the lead to 4-2 with their third power-play goal of the night toward the end of the game. Ovechkin took a shot from the blue line that was deflected in front by Laich. Eric Fehr found the rebound on the left side and backhanded a shot into an open net for his third goal of the season at 16:14.
Nicklas Backstrom scored an empty-netter with 50 seconds remaining to seal the game for Washington.
"There's no excuse for tonight," said Gordon. "We should play with a lot more energy. We cut too many corners. Washington came out hungry off a tough loss. We didn't compete at the same level."
MacDonald made his 15th consecutive start in net for the Islanders, recording a season-high 42 saves in the loss. Johnson had 27 stops for the win.
The Islanders went 1-for-8 on the power play, with nine shots. Washington finished 3-for-5 with the man advantage, recording 11 shots. The Capitals out-shot the Islanders overall, 47-29.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. Viktor Kozlov: gave the Capitals a 2-0 advantage with a power-play tally in the first period 2. Karl Alzner: had the primary assist on Brashear's marker, finished +1 in 20:16 of ice time 3. Donald Brashear: scored the game-winning goal in the third period Honorable Mention – Alex Ovechkin: had three points (1g, 2a) and 11 shots to lead the Caps
Slap Shots: Doug Weight leads the Islanders with 18 assists this season...Mark Streit paced the Islanders with five shots and 25:11 of ice time...Mike Sillinger returned to the Islanders' lineup after missing the first 24 games of the season recovering from microfracture hip surgery. Sillinger won 11-of-19 face-offs and had two shots in 14:20 of action...Radek Martinek (shoulder) and Nate Thompson (leg) were the Islanders' scratches.
2 Mark Streit - 25 Andy Sutton
14 Chris Campoli - 17 Thomas Pock
32 Brendan Witt - 44 Freddy Meyer
20 Sean Bergenheim - 93 Doug Weight - 13 Bill Guerin
11 Andy Hilbert - 12 Josh Bailey – 7 Trent Hunter
15 Jeff Tambellini - 10 Richard Park - 16 Jon Sim
49 Mitch Fritz - 18 Mike Sillinger - 28 Tim Jackman
Goaltenders 1 Brent Johnson
60 Jose Theodore
23 Milan Jurcina - 27 Karl Alzner
26 Shaone Morrisonn - 42 Sami Lepisto
43 Bryan Helmer - 89 Tyler Sloan
19 Nicklas Backstrom - 92 Michael Nylander - 8 Alex Ovechkin
20 Keith Aucoin - 25 Viktor Kozlov - 14 Tomas Fleischmann
15 Boyd Gordon - 21 Brooks Laich - 16 Eric Fehr
10 Matt Bradley - 39 David Steckel - 87 Donald Brashear
1 - 0 WSH
2 - 0 WSH
2 - 1 WSH
2 - 2 Tie
3 - 2 WSH
4 - 2 WSH