Chris Clark finally ended a game that had a little bit of everything.
Clark scored in the 11th round of a shootout Wednesday night to give the Washington Capitals a 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders at the Verizon Center. Clark beat Dwayne Roloson with a perfectly placed wrister and Semyon Varlamov stopped Mark Streit to give the Caps the win in the longest shootout of the season.
Each team blew a lead in a game that marked the seventh time in their last nine meetings, including all three this season, that the Capitals and Islanders have gone past regulation. The teams split the first two meetings, with the road team winning in OT.
In this one, the Caps led 1-0 just 8 seconds into the game, the Islanders led 3-1 less than seven minutes later, and Washington failed to hold a late lead in the third period.
"Even when we were down, I never thought that we were out of it," Caps coach Bruce Bodureau said. "It was too early. There were 50 minutes left in the game, we were down 3-1, but I thought we had a good chance of coming back."
Varlamov had come on in relief of Jose Theodore, who got an early lead when Alexander Semin matched the fastest goal in franchise history from the start of a game but was gone before the first TV timeout when the Islanders answered with three quick goals.
"I don't like to do that," Boudreau said of pulling Theodore, "especially so early. He looked a little rattled and he looked a little down. It's not like pulling him when the game is out of reach. We had so much time left. The last time he was pulled, he (Varlamov) came in and shut the door, so I thought he could do it again."
He did -- and the Caps regrouped. Tomas Fleischmann scored a power-play goal late in the first period, Semin got his second of the night on another power play 5:35 into the second and Eric Fehr's shot deflected off defenseman Jack Hillen and into the net at 16:46 to put the Capitals back in front.
"We knew going into the second that we plenty of time to fix this," Clark said. "They got some goals early, but we had 45 minutes left to fix it. We knew we were a better team than we showed in the first 15 minutes."
Washington kept firing away at Roloson, who faced 41 shots -- 11 by Semin -- but couldn't beat him again. The Islanders made Roloson's heroics pay off when Trent Hunter ripped a power-play wrister past Varlamov with 2:08 remaining in regulation.
"That third period was huge for us, to be able to draw the penalties against a team that prides themselves on their third periods," Isles coach Scott Gordon said. "It was good to see us come back."
Hunter was back in the lineup for the first time since going down with a chest injury two games into the season.
"There's nobody on our team that has a better release than Hunts," Gordon said. "He was in the right place at the right time."
After a scoreless overtime, Jeff Tambellini gave New York the lead by scoring in the first round of the shootout. Semin tied it in the second round -- and no one scored again until Clark won it.
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.
1 - 0 WSH
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 NYI
3 - 1 NYI
3 - 2 NYI
3 - 3 Tie
4 - 3 WSH