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Playing as a first-place team for the first time in nearly five years, the New York Islanders try to complete a sweep of their three-game homestand Saturday when they host the struggling Washington Capitals.
The Islanders (11-7-3) moved into a three-way tie atop the Atlantic Division with their metropolitan rivals - the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils - after a 3-1 win Friday over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Rick DiPietro turned aside 35 shots and Alexei Yashin continued his inspired early season play with a second-period goal, rewarding the season-high 15,625 fans who made the trek to the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
"It helps to have a full house," said DiPietro, who is 3-2 with a 2.32 goals-against average and two shutouts lifetime against the Capitals. "It's a big time of year for us, and you have to put forth a full effort in front of a full house."
The Islanders put forth a dominant effort on the penalty kill, not allowing a goal in nine opportunities. Forward Richard Park made two key blocks - while playing without his stick - in a first-period penalty kill while the Islanders were down two men.
"I just happened to be in the right place at the right time," Park said. "We work on positioning in practice, and you just try to get in the shooting lanes and minimize their angles."
Yashin extended his points streak to four games, totaling three goals and three assists in that span, and has seven goals and eight assists in his last 12 games. The 33-year-old Russian center, who has five goals and 14 points in 11 home contests, also has five goals and five assists in a six-game points streak versus the Capitals.
Miroslav Satan, who had a goal and an assist, is one goal shy of 300 for his career. He picked up his 300th career assist on Yashin's goal.
Washington (8-8-6) is mired in a season-high five-game losing streak after Saturday's 7-1 rout by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Playing without suspended forwards Donald Brashear and Brian Sutherby as well as injured forward Alexander Semin, backup goaltender Brent Johnson allowed four goals in a 4:10 span of the second period that turned a one-goal game into a 6-1 deficit.
"We certainly didn't want to get embarrassed like that," Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. "We had all kinds of opportunities to tie it up 2-2 and then we took a couple of penalties.
"After that, it was as if they scored on every opportunity."
Olaf Kolzig, who likely will return to the net for this game, is trying to end a personal three-start winning streak. He has allowed eight goals in his last two starts while making 61 saves.
The 36-year-old netminder is 24-8 with two ties, a 2.29 GAA and three shutouts lifetime versus the Islanders, and he is 11-5 with a 2.44 GAA and one shutout at the Nassau Coliseum.
Alexander Ovechkin, who scored the lone goal for the Capitals in Saturday's loss, has four goals in his last eight games. The reigning Calder Trophy winner as the NHL's best rookie, Ovechkin had two goals and two assists in three games against the Islanders last season.
New York won three of the four games between the teams last season and also has a three-game home winning streak against Washington that includes DiPietro's two shutouts.