Capitals 3, Islanders 2, OT

The Washington Capitals made up for 561/2 minutes of frustration
with a 5-minute burst that provided a desperate team an improbable,
uplifting victory.

There’s no telling whether Washington’s 3-2 comeback win in
overtime against the New York Islanders on Tuesday night will
become a turning point in the Capitals’ scramble to earn a playoff
berth.

But the two points sure couldn’t hurt.

Blanked by New York’s Evgeni Nabokov deep into the third period,
the Capitals got two goals from Troy Brouwer in the final 31/2
minutes of regulation before Alex Ovechkin scored at 1:35 of
overtime to win it. It was Washington’s third straight victory –
its longest winning streak since an identical run in
mid-January.

“It’s a big two points,” Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. “Their
goalie was putting together a good game. You could see it was going
to take a special play to get a goal on him.”

For much of the game, it seemed as if Washington wasn’t going to
score even once, let alone three times.

Brouwer cut the deficit to 2-1 with 3:29 left in regulation with
a shot from the right of the net, after taking an excellent
crossing pass from Mathieu Perreault.

“Unfortunately, it took us 57 minutes to do it,” Brouwer said.
“When time is running down, it’s always tough to know if you are
going to be able to get that second one.”

After Hunter pulled goalie Michal Neuvirth, Brouwer deflected a
shot by Brooks Laich past Nabokov to tie it with 25.5 seconds to
play.

In overtime, Ovechkin entered the New York zone from the left
side and fired a wrist shot from the top of the left circle that
found the back of the net.

“It was a huge victory for us,” Ovechkin said. “We needed one
goal, and Brouwer got it, and got a second one. Now we are in OT,
and I had a lucky goal. I tried probably three times today to get
the shot through.”

The Capitals couldn’t have asked for a better way to open a
five-game homestand. The victory pushed Washington past Winnipeg
into the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference and kept the
Capitals three points behind first-place Florida in the Southeast
Division.

“You look at the guys’ faces and there was excitement and joy
and relief and accomplishment,” Laich said. “Everything was
there.”

Neuvirth, who stopped 22 shots, said, “It shows a lot. This team
never quit.”

Washington was 0-3 against the Islanders, the only Eastern
Conference team it had failed to defeat this season.

It was the fourth straight road loss for the Islanders, who were
13-1-5 when leading after two periods. Nabokov appeared headed for
his 53rd career shutout, but instead fell to 10-2 lifetime against
the Capitals.

“We’ve just got to regroup,” New York coach Jack Capuano
said.

Josh Bailey, who scored the Islanders’ first goal, said, “It was
tough to break down late in the game like that.”

Washington outshot New York 13-3 in the first period, but the
Islanders took a 1-0 lead on Bailey’s seventh of the season. Bailey
faked a shot from the top of the right circle, then skated down the
middle and deked Neuvirth before pumping in a wrister from the slot
at 4:14.

It was the Islanders’ second shot of the game; the next didn’t
come until 18:22. Washington managed only two shots during two
power-play opportunities over the first 20 minutes.

“They had some chances in the first period,” Capuano said of the
Capitals. “But Nabokov made some big saves for us.”

The second period wasn’t much different in that the Capitals
still couldn’t find a way to score. After New York took the first
five shots of the period, Washington’s Mike Green finally tested
Nabokov with a long-range wrist shot at 9:03 during what turned out
to be another futile power play.

Matt Moulson made it 2-0 at 2:16 of the third period, deflecting
a shot by Steve Staios over Neuvirth’s left shoulder.

NOTES: Islanders C Frans Nielsen played in his 300th NHL game,
all with New York. … Neuvirth improved to 4-0 against the
Islanders. … Moulson has 27 goals but only four in February. …
Brouwer has 17 goals, matching his total from all of last
season.