UNIONDALE, N.Y. - Olaf Kolzig did what he usually does to the New York Islanders. For the Washington Capitals, that is simply perfect.
Kolzig stopped 30 shots against his favourite opponent and carried the Capitals to a 2-1 comeback victory over the Islanders on Monday to keep Washington undefeated.
The Capitals improved to 3-0 for the first time since the 2002-03 season despite being outshot 31-12. That was the last time they reached the playoffs, and with an improved roster around young star Alexander Ovechkin, they have every intention of going back.
"We're going into games expecting to win, where last year we'd go into games saying, 'Let's work hard and see what happens,"' Kolzig said. "It's a totally different mind-set. We've put pressure on ourselves, but it's pressure that's in a good way."
After former Islanders forward Viktor Kozlov tied it in the second period, Brooks Laich put the Capitals in front in the third.
The Islanders were looking for their first 3-0 start since 2001, but were done in again by Kolzig. The Capitals goalie, in his 17th NHL season - all with Washington - improved to 26-9-2 against the Islanders, the most wins he's had against any opponent.
With hoards of enthusiastic children, several NHL mascots and a sold-out Columbus Day crowd rooting on the Islanders on Kids Opening Day, Laich spoiled the party at 7:58 with his first goal in 21 games, dating to Feb. 27.
"I know my role is to be a dependable forward," Laich said.
He was that, but this win became possible because of the 37-year-old Kolzig's effort. The Capitals had won their first two games by outshooting Atlanta and Carolina a combined 73-52.
"We've done a pretty good job the first couple of games of not relying on our goalie to be the star," said Caps coach Glen Hanlon, a netminder for 14 NHL seasons. "We know that he is back there and this was a good reminder.
"If you give him the opportunity where he's played enough games ... then in these types of games he'll come through all the time for us."
Richard Park scored for the Islanders.
Laich finished off the winning scoring play that started with a defensive-zone turnover by Mike Comrie, who scored four goals in the first two games.
Michael Nylander intercepted Comrie's clearing attempt, and played keep away from the Islanders near the blue line. He set up a shot by Brian Pothier, that was stopped by goalie Rick DiPietro, but the rebound came to Laich.
"Next time, he'll know to use the boards," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "If he has one turnover a game and creates six scoring chances, we'll take that."
Kozlov tied it 7:58 into the second period when he took a crisp pass from Ovechkin in the high slot and ripped a hard slap shot that beat DiPietro to the glove side.
Kozlov, who scored a career-high 25 goals with the Islanders last season, has two goals with the Caps and points in all three games.
Kolzig did the rest for Washington in playing his second straight game after sitting out the season opener Friday at Atlanta. He made 23 saves in a home shutout Saturday, and the Capitals were one of two teams to only allow one goal through two games.
The Islanders took a 1-0 lead 6:30 in after Sean Bergenheim knocked the puck away from Nylander with a hit along the boards to Kolzig's left. Darryl Bootland got to the loose puck and found Park in the slot for a shot that whistled past Kolzig.
Park's first goal was the only shot to get past Kolzig despite the Islanders holding a 25-9 shots advantage through 40 minutes, including 17-3 in the middle frame when New York had its four failed power plays.
The Islanders enjoyed a two-man advantage for 1:35, yet Kolzig turned away their best chance when captain Bill Guerin redirected a shot on net.
"We played as hard as we could," defenceman Andy Sutton said. "There are some games you should lose and you win, and there are some games you should win and you lose. This was one of the latter."
Trent Hunter had a short-handed breakaway, but former Islanders defenceman Tom Poti knocked the puck away before a shot could be made on Kolzig.
Notes: Bootland hadn't recorded a point in the NHL since a goal for Detroit on Nov. 26, 2003. ... Capitals RW Alexander Semin (ankle) sat out his second straight game. ... D Freddy Meyer was claimed off waivers from the Islanders by Phoenix. ... Washington is 12-for-12 in penalty killing this season.