Islanders beat Capitals, improve to 5-0-1 under Weight
NEW YORK (AP) — Ryan Strome ended his monthlong scoring drought at the perfect moment for the invigorated New York Islanders.
Strome and Johnny Boychuk scored in the third period, Thomas Greiss made 28 saves and the Islanders beat the league-leading Washington Capitals 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Strome got his first goal since Dec. 31 to put New York up 2-1 6:31 into the period. Anthony Beauvillier stole the puck behind the Capitals net and passed it to Brock Nelson. The Islanders forward sent a quick pass to Strome, and he tapped it past goalie Philipp Grubauer.
“We’re starting to be more confident and it feels good when you’re winning games,” Strome said. “We just beat Montreal and Columbus. The third period, you really have no nerves, and I think that’s the strength of our team. Just pretty poised and things are going good for us.”
Boychuk scored into an empty net with 1:08 left, and Alan Quine also had a goal for New York. The Islanders are 5-0-1 under interim coach Doug Weight since firing longtime boss Jack Capuano.
“There’s a little bit of a buzz, some positive energy and I think that’s contagious,” Brock Nelson said about the Islanders recent run. “When that’s happening and that’s going on in the locker room, it’s pretty easy to go out there and just relax. Have fun and play hockey. Good things seem to happen when that happens.”
Greiss signed a three-year contract extension with the Islanders on Monday night. He is 15-7-3 in 26 games this season, with a .928 save percentage and 2.24 goals against average.
Alex Ovechkin scored his 24th goal of the season with 47 seconds left, and Evgeny Kuznetsov also had a goal for Washington. Grubauer made 26 saves.
The Islanders have points in seven straight games and have pulled themselves out of the cellar and into the Eastern Conference playoff chase. They trail Philadelphia by three points for the final wild card and have played fewer games than most teams in the conference.
“We said we’re entering relevance a week ago or 10 days ago, and I think we’re in the conversation now,” Weight said. “We have a long way to go, but the guys believe.”
The Capitals jumped to a lead early in the first period when Kuznetsov scored his 10th goal of the season. He received a pass from Justin Williams and was able to snap a wrist shot from in front of the net.
Kuznetsov has five goals in his last six games, including his first multigoal game of the season on Jan. 26 against New Jersey.
The Islanders tied it at 1 less than five minutes into the second period on the power play when Quine scored off a rebound.
The Capitals had entered Tuesday night’s matchup with a 13-1-1 record and they had only lost four games in regulation since Dec. 1.
“They played with a lot of desperation in their game,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said about the Islanders. “I thought we came out really well. I thought we had some chances in the first that we could have been up a couple goals instead of one. They hung around.”
NOTES: Casey Cizikas got his 100th career point. ... John Carlson returned to the Capitals lineup for the first time since Jan. 15. The defenseman has been out with a lower-body injury. ... D Thomas Hickey and F Cal Clutterbuck were both scratches for the Islanders due to lower-body injuries. Forward Stephen Gionta was a healthy scratch. ... Ds Taylor Chorney and Christian Djoos and F Chandler Stephenson were healthy scratches for the Capitals. Stephenson and Djoos were both called up from AHL Hershey on Monday.
Islanders: Travel to Detroit for a game Friday night.
Capitals: Return home to Verizon Center to host Boston on Wednesday night.