UNIONDALE , N.Y. -- Another third-period lead, another loss for the New York Islanders.
The Washington Capitals erased a 2-0 deficit in the final 13:58 of regulation before Brooks Laich scored 60 seconds into overtime on Saturday night as the Caps skated away with a 3-2 victory over the Isles at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Laich, who got the comeback started with an assist on Mike Green's goal at 6:02 of the third, redirected the latter's feed past Dwayne Roloson in front of a shell-shocked crowd that has already seen this far too often this season. Nine games into the season, New York (1-4-4) has already blown three multi-goal leads and four overall in the third period.
The Islanders lost despite shutting down Alex Ovechkin. They limited him to two shots on goal and blocked five others. Ovechkin also missed the net three times. And when Jeff Tambellini scored 3:44 into the third period to give New York a 2-0 lead, the Isles seemed well on their way to their second win of the season.
But just like the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes have already done this month, the Caps proved that no Isles' lead is safe.
"We're not the only team," Isles coach Scott Gordon responded when asked about his team's inability to protect a late lead. "Given the fact that we're certainly not a dynamic offensive team, it's probably going to happen to us more than we'd like. It has happened more than we'd like. We're not happy about it. That killer instinct … that comes from burying your chances. We've got find a way to be a little bit tighter defensively."
The inability to hold leads has plagued the Islanders in their one-plus seasons under Gordon. They lost five times in regulation and four in overtime or a shootout last season when leading after two periods. The Isles are 0-1-3 this season when they have the lead through 40 minutes.
While the Caps (6-2-2) mustered only eight shots on goal in the third period, they still found a way to tie the game and force overtime. Laich then sealed it as he stormed to the net and got his stick on Green's gorgeous saucer feed for his fourth goal of the season.
"On the ice, you can see they were showing a little fatigue in their faces," Laich said of the Islanders. "They looked a little bit tired, and we were pouring it on. We just wanted to keep going. It was about us and the way we played. I thought our guys showed a lot of resiliency to come back to tie it. A lot of guys stepped up tonight. Sometimes you need that on a greasy road win."
The Isles grabbed a 1-0 lead when Radek Martinek scored shorthanded with 7:46 remaining in the first period. With Blake Comeau in the box for tripping, Martinek took a drop pass fromFrans Nielsen and fired a slap shot from the top of the slot past Caps goalie Jose Theodore (28 saves). It was Martinek's second goal of the season.
New York held the one-goal lead through 40 minutes, as it survived a ton of activity in its own end of the ice during a second period that featured an 18-second two-man advantage for the Caps. It marked the first time this season that Washington had failed to score in the first two periods.
Tambellini put the Islanders up by a pair when he tallied his first goal of the season at 3:41 of the third period. Tambellini, who has bounced in and out of the lineup this season, parked himself near the right post and redirected Andy Sutton's shot from the point past Theodore to make it 2-0. It was his first goal of the season.
But Washington quickly cut the deficit in half as Green scored less than three minutes later. The offensively-gifted defenseman took a pass from Mike Knuble and fired a laser from just inside the right point past Roloson to make it 2-1. It was Green's second goal of the season.
The Isles then completely blew another third-period lead as Keith Aucoin tied the game with 6:40 left in regulation. After being denied by Roloson on a wrister from the slot, Aucoin seized control of the puck from Martinek behind the net and beat Roloson on a wraparound for his first goal of the season.
"It's a good team," Isles defenseman Mark Streit said of the Caps. "They have a good offense and they have a lot of goal-scorers. When you're up 2-0, you obviously want to get the win. It's unfortunate. We have a young team. We've just got to keep battling and improve our game and finally win games like that."
Washington had two glorious chances to win the game in the final minute of regulation. Chris Clark nearly knocked Roloson over with a laser off the left wing that drilled the Isles' goalie in the mask just moments before Ovechkin's rocket from the slot sailed wide of the net. New York outshot the Caps 16-8 in the third period. Roloson finished with 21 saves.
"It's frustrating, but there was a lot more good than there was bad," said Gordon, whose team has been outscored 16-6 in the third period this season. "It's not going to be easy for us, and we've got to understand that and just make sure that we develop a killer instinct. To me, that's the separation between the teams that do have that success in the third period that we haven't had."
-- Brian Compton, NHL.com