The Isles wrapped up a two-game road trip with a 5-3 statement win over the Metropolitan Division leading Washington Capitals on Monday night at Capital One Arena. Anthony Beauvillier found the back of the net twice while Devon Toews, Leo Komarov and Jordan Eberle also scored. Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey compiled three assists each on the night and Thomas Greiss shut the door with 26 saves against the Capitals.
"We did some really good things," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "I liked our start. I thought we were skating well. I thought we didn't give in to transitional pucks, which is a real strength of their game. I thought we forechecked well when we could. I was real happy offensively; we held onto pucks, we were hard to check, we had some odd-man rushes and really executed through that."
Video: Beauvillier scores twice, Islanders defeat Capitals
With parity so widespread throughout the Metropolitan Division and the race for playoffs tightening with each passing game, the Isles earned a crucial two points and took care of business with a strong start against Washington, going up 2-0 by 6:16 of the first period.
"We felt like we owed these guys from last [time we played them]," Beauvillier said. "A big win for us. I thought we did a good job coming off strong, getting big goals, sticking with the plan and getting a big win."
The Isles opened up scoring 3:30 into the first period on a quick strike in transition. Ryan Pulock caught a loose puck and played Bailey up the ice. The Isles second line then strung together a slick tic-tac-toe sequence in which Beauvillier buried the puck on Ilya Samsonov's stick side.
It took just under three minutes later for the Isles to double their lead 2-0 as the same trio worked the Caps zone. Bailey's initial shot was deflected by Samsonov, but a strong forechecking effort by Nelson created the opportunity for Beauvillier to bury his second of the night on the doorstep. With his second goal - and point - of the night, Beauvillier matched his career-high in points (36), which he set during the 2017-18 campaign.
"I think we had just two 15-second shifts and buried twice in those two shifts," Beauvillier said. "You find your legs when you get points early."
Video: NYI@WSH: Beauvillier buries one-timer on the rush
Ahead of the game, Trotz had noted the importance of getting to the gritty areas of the rink and working under the hash marks and in return, getting rewarded for such efforts.
"I thought we stayed in those hard areas and we were able to chip in a secondary puck," Trotz said. "We haven't had one of those for a while and we had two or three of them tonight, which was nice to see. Sometimes you go to the net and you're hovering around, you're hovering around and just as you sort of stay off the pile, the puck comes right where you were. We stayed in the fight a little bit and it paid off tonight."
The Caps scored their first on a long-range shot with 7:05 remaining in the opening period. Alexander Ovechkin positioned himself in front of the crease to block Greiss's view and the effort was effective as John Carlson's shot from the point beat Greiss and cut the Caps' deficit down to one goal.
The Isles restored their two-goal lead on a four-on-four late in the first period. Pulock broke the puck out of the Isles' zone as Bailey and Toews exchanged a give-and-go. Toews snapped a wrist shot just in front of the crease to make it 3-1 and gave the Isles a boost as the period expired.
Video: NYI@WSH: Toews lifts wrist shot past Samsonov
The Isles carried the momentum over and took just 45 seconds into the second period to extend their lead to three goals for the first time in the game. Komarov potted his second goal of the season - and first in nine games - as he wired a wrist shot from the right faceoff circle through the pads of Samsonov.
Midway through the middle frame, the Isles had just come off a big penalty kill - after Mathew Barzal tripped Richard Panik at 7:10 - and raised their lead 5-1. The Isles converted on yet another quick-strike transition play, as Barzal played Lee down the left flank to set up a two-on-one rush. Lee sent a cross-crease pass to Eberle on the doorstep who roofed his shot over Samsonov to pot his ninth of the season. The Caps rookie goalie was subsequently pulled after the play and replaced by Braden Holtby.
Down by four goals, the Caps didn't quit and showed resolve. They responded 49 seconds later to cut their deficit down 5-2. Carl Hagelin went for the wraparound and sent the puck right in front of Greiss, where the puck deflected off of the skate of Lars Elller and trickled over the goal line.
Video: NYI@WSH: Komarov goes five-hole for wrist shot goal
Washington scored their third of the night on the power play. Scott Mayfield was sent to the box for high-sticking at 15:29 and T.J. Oshie buried a one-timer from the left faceoff circle - usually occupied by Ovechkin - as the Caps trimmed the Isles lead down 5-3 with 3:01 to play in the period.
The high-scoring match quieted in the third period. The intensity rose, but the score remained the same. Washington outshot the Isles 11-8 in the final frame, but the Isles held on and ultimately finished the game with a 32-29 shot advantage.
With the win, the Islanders moved back into third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Video: NYI@WSH: Beauvillier cleans up rebound in front
BEAUVILLIER EXTENDS POINT STREAK TO SIX GAMES:
Beauvillier scored his 16th and 17th goals of the season and extended his point streak to a career-long six games. The 22-year-old winger has amassed eight points (5G, 3A) during that span.
Beauvillier and his linemates have been clicking especially as of late, but Trotz felt tonight's win was especially impacted by Beauvillier's ability to create opportunities off of his relentless forecheck, quick step and pride in his game and responsibilities.
"[Beauvillier] was really skating today and he got rewarded," Trotz said. "Everything from his wall play, to forecheck, to being hard to check down low, cutbacks; those things that make him special in that way. He used his assets today. The speed, the agility, and the quickness. You add that with a high degree of determination, and he got rewarded."
The Isles take on Philadelphia at Barclays Center for the second leg of their back-to-back set. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.