The New York Islanders close out a three-game road trip, the calendar year and the decade in Washington DC, as they take on the Capitals on Tuesday afternoon at Capital One Arena at 1 pm.
The Isles snapped a three-game winless streak (0-2-1) with a 3-1 victory over Minnesota on Sunday evening and got back to playing to their identity in the process of doing so. Down by one goal, the Isles scored three third-period goals from Ryan Pulock, Matt Martin and Tom Kuhnhackl. Semyon Varalmov made 25 saves.
Washington dropped a 6-4 decision in Carolina on Saturday, losing consecutive road games for the first time this season. Washington scored two power-play goals from Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov while Nic Dowd and Richard Panik also found the back of the net. Braden Holtby turned aside 23 shots.
MORNING SKATE UPDATES:
- Braden Holtby will start in net for the Capitals. Holtby has made 28 starts this season and has a record of 17-6-4, a 2.95 goals against average and a save percentage of .904.
- After three-straight losses to Anaheim, Columbus and Chicago, respectively, the Islanders regrouped and returned to their defensive details and four-line attack. Sunday was a step in the right direction, as they held their opponents to one goal for the first time in six games and were powered to victory by secondary scoring.
- Pulock got the Isles on the board first and potted his sixth goal of the season. The blueliner has 19 points (6G, 13A) through 37 games, which leads Isles defensemen.
- Martin's eventual game-winner came less than two minutes after Pulock's goal. Martin scored his third of the season and first goal since Oct. 25. Through 25 games this season, the winger has four points (3G, 1A). Twelve of Martin's 51-career goals with the Islanders have been game-winners.
- Kuhnhackl scored his first goal since March 1 to seal the win for the Isles. Through 11 games this season, Kuhnhackl has two points (1G, 1A).
- Mathew Barzal assisted on Pulock's goal to return him to top spot on the Isles leaderboard for assists (17). Barzal also leads the Isles in goals (16) and points (33). The 22-year-old center has six points (3G, 3A) in his past five games.
- Leo Komarov drew back in the lineup after being a healthy scratch for two games and set up Martin for the game-winning goal. The winger logged 14:58 time on ice, had one shot on goal and threw one hit.
- Varlamov made his 19th start of the season and improved his record to 13-3-3. The Russian netminder has a 2.40 goals against average that is 10th best in the NHL and a .920 save percentage.
- The win improved the Isles record to 24-10-3 (51 points) and drew them within eight points of the Capitals who lead the Metro Division. The win marked the earliest the Islanders have reached 50 points since the 1983-84 season (24-9-2), as they were able to do by Dec. 22.
- The Isles penalty kill went 3-for-3 against the Wild and through the first two legs of this three-game road trip is a perfect 100% having killed 7-of-7 penalties. Across the NHL, the Isles PK unit is ranked 17th at 80.5%.
- At 27-8-5, the Capitals lead the NHL in wins (27) and points (59) and are fifth in the league averaging 3.50 goals-per-game.
- From his office, Ovechkin rifled in his 24th goal of the season and ninth goal on the power play. Of his career, the power-play goal was Ovechkin's 256th, which ranks third all-time behind only Hockey Hall of Famers Dave Andreychuk (274) and Brett Hull (265). Currently, Ovechkin is ranked third in the NHL in goals behind Boston's David Pastrnak (29) and Toronto's Auston Matthews (26), respectively. Through 40 games, the 34-year-old center leads the Caps in goals and his 38 points through 40 games rank second on the team. Ovechkin has points in four of his last five games with three goals and two assists in that span.
- Kuznetsov scored his 13th goal of the season and fifth on the power play. The Russian winger has 35 points through 37 games this year. His 22 assists are second-best among the Caps.
- John Carlson had a team-high two points against the Canes, as the blueliner assisted on Dowd and Kuznetsov's goals. Carlson is a potential James Norris Memorial Trophy candidate as he leads all defenseman in the NHL in points (50) and assists (37). Carlson's 13 goals rank second in the league among defenseman.
- Holtby made his 28th start of the season. The 30-year-old netminder has a record of 17-6-4, a 2.95 GAA and a .904 SV%.
- Ilya Samsonov has made 12 starts in net this season for the Caps. The 22-year-old Russian goalie has the four-best goals-against average in the NHL at 2.28. Samsonov has a record of 10-2-1 and a .918 save percentage.
- The Caps power play went 2-for-5 against Carolina. Across the NHL, Washington's power play is ranked 11th overall at 21.6%.
- Washington has the second-best penalty kill in the NHL at 84.7%. Against the Canes, the Caps PK went 2-for-3.
- The loss to Carolina was the Capitals' third loss of their last four road games.
- Washington was without Michal Kempny and Tom Wilson against Carolina. Kempny is out with illness so the Caps recalled defenseman Christian Djoos from their AHL affiliate the Hershey Bears. Djoos sustained an upper-body injury in the first period and did not return. Wilson missed his first game of the season with a lower-body injury.
ISLES VS. CAPS:
The Islanders and Capitals last met on Oct. 4 in the Isles first game of the season at NYCB Live. Washington won a 2-1 decision. Devon Toews scored the Isles first goal and only goal of the night, while Varlamov made 26 saves.