Islanders snap winless streak as Halak shuts down Caps

December 12, 2017
New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak (41), of Slovakia, makes a save as Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19), of Sweden, watches during the third period of an NHL hockey game in New York, Monday, Dec. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

NEW YORK (AP) — Hours after getting a vote of confidence from his coach, Jaroslav Halak came through with one of his best games of the season.

Halak made 31 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Washington Capitals 3-1 on Monday night to snap a three-game winless streak.

It was the second time this season that Halak held an opponent to a single goal and the third time New York has allowed one goal as a team. Halak’s strong performance came after coach Doug Weight sternly defended his goaltenders following the team’s skate Monday morning. New York was 1-3-1 over its last five games.

“I felt good out there,” Halak said. “Obviously it would be nicer to get a shutout, but I think a win is a win. Two points at home and it was really a good game by pretty much everybody on the ice. Everybody had a role and they played it.”

Brock Nelson, Andrew Ladd and John Tavares scored goals for the Islanders, who built a 3-0 lead early in the second period and ended Washington’s four-game winning streak. The Islanders killed off both Washington power plays and snapped a seven-game stretch that saw them surrender one or more power-play goals.

The Islanders (17-10-3) extended their home record to 9-1-2, while Washington (18-12-1) fell to 6-7-1 on the road.

“He was great,” Ladd said about Halak. “A lot of big saves, especially in the second. When we had a two-goal lead, he had a couple of big ones to keep us with that spread. He was phenomenal tonight.”

Braden Holtby made nine saves for the Capitals before being pulled after the Islanders scored their third goal 1:34 into the second period. Philipp Grubauer made 17 saves in relief, and Dmitry Orlov scored Washington’s only goal.

“It was a frustrating game,” Capitals forward Tom Wilson said. “They played us hard and smart. They had the foot speed, were one or two steps ahead of us all night. They played well.”

Nelson scored his ninth goal of the season 2:36 into the first period. Jason Chimera passed to Cal Clutterbuck to set up the initial shot, and Nelson picked up the rebound and banked the puck off the inside of Holtby’s pad.

The Islanders appeared to score again when Anders Lee pushed the puck over the goal line, but officials waved off the goal, and a challenge by Weight was unsuccessful.

New York went ahead 2-0 36 seconds into the second period when Calvin de Haan slid the puck toward center ice and Ladd tapped it in.

Tavares scored 58 seconds later, taking advantage when Holtby got out of position.

“I thought the first two periods we did a lot of good things,” Tavares said. “We carried the play, a nice play on that first goal by everybody. I think it was a good boost early. It was a good two points against a team that was playing pretty well.”

Orlov scored with 11:37 left in the game. He capitalized on a 2-on-1 rush and fired a one-timer past Halak.

NOTES: The Metropolitan Division clash was the second of five between the Islanders and Capitals this season, and the first at Barclays Center. The Capitals beat the Islanders 4-3 in Washington on Nov. 2. ... Capitals RW T.J. Oshie missed his third consecutive game with an upper-body injury. Oshie skated at the Capitals’ practice facility in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday for the second straight day. ... Islanders D Johnny Boychuk sat out his third straight game with an undisclosed injury. Boychuk participated in the team’s morning skate and was labeled a game-time decision. ... Forwards Alan Quine and Shane Prince were scratches for the Islanders. ... D Taylor Chorney was a healthy scratch for the Capitals.


The Capitals host the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

The Islanders stay home to play the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night.


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