Washington goaltender Braden Holtby stopped all three Islander attempts in the shootout and Washington snapped a five-game losing streak and moved within two points of Columbus for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
John Persson and Frans Nielsen scored 1:40 apart early in the second period to give the Islanders a 3-1 lead, but the Capitals fought back to tie the game on goals by Nicklas Backstrom and Joel Ward to tie it 3-3 heading into the third.
Cal Clutterbuck gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead 12:55 into the first period.
Holtby stopped 35 shots for Washington and Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves for New York.
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