WASHINGTON -- Trailing by two goals early in the second period with their starting goaltender out sick, the Washington Capitals didn't panic.
Instead they rallied to score two third-period goals and defeat the New York Islanders 4-3 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Verizon Center on Friday.
Washington trailed 2-0 and 3-1 but won to tie the best-of-7 series. It was the first time since April 21, 2008 that the Capitals trailed a playoff game by two goals and won in regulation.
"We haven't panicked all year," Washington forward Jason Chimera said. "It's one of those things, we kept on going. I have no issues with this team coming back after a loss like that (4-1 in Game 1). We have confidence in us, and even when we're down 1-0 we kept on going and kept on fighting."
Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer made 18 saves in his Stanley Cup Playoff debut. Recalled from Hershey of the American Hockey League on Friday morning, he played in place of Braden Holtby, who was ill.
"I think I've played long enough to know what I have to do," Grubauer said. "I mean, just stop the puck, that's all. It's not rocket science."
Grubauer didn't find out he would start the game until Friday morning. The 23-year-old figured he would back up Holtby or watch the game from the press box.
A few hours later, he became the third Capitals goaltender to win his playoff debut (Bob Mason on April 11, 1987; and Olaf Kolzig on April 5, 1995).
Holtby's status in unknown for Game 3 on Sunday at Nassau Coliseum (Noon ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).
Grubauer is the seventh Capitals rookie goaltender to start a playoff game and the first German-born goalie to start one in NHL history.
"I just liked his demeanor. I can't put myself in those shoes," Washington coach Barry Trotz said. "That is the great trait of a goalie. You are not so overwhelmed by the moment or the situation. That is what I liked about Philipp, is that he just came in and played and did a good job."
But New York led 2-0 3:24 into the second period on goals by Cal Clutterbuck and Ryan Strome.
"We played, even in the first period, really good," Trotz said. "The second, we just kept doing the same thing. We did what we wanted to. We made some slight adjustments from Game 1, which you do. We just stayed with it. We stayed with it all night."
Chimera scored the game-winning goal 7:37 into the third period, after Nicklas Backstrom tied it at 3:44.
Alex Ovechkin and defenseman Karl Alzner also scored for Washington.
Kyle Okposo scored for New York, and Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves.
"We gave up a lead on the road in the third period," Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky said. "They obviously came hard, and I think just in general our execution was not at the standard that it was during the first game. When they come hard and you don't execute, that's what happens."
In a first period marked by physicality, the Islanders blocked 15 shots and had 18 hits. The Capitals attempted 31 shots but five made it to the net.
Clutterbuck gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 5:14 of the period. Fed by a Matt Martin pass that created a 2-on-1 against Washington defenseman Tim Gleason, Clutterbuck skated through the neutral zone and beat Grubauer high glove side from the left faceoff dot.
Strome scored at 3:24 of the second period to make it 2-0. John Tavares picked the puck out of the corner and passed to Strome, who took a one-timer from the top of the right circle.
With the Islanders trapped in their zone, Alzner made it 2-1 at 11:26 of the period with a one-timer from the right circle over Halak's glove.
Okposo answered for the Islanders at 14:09 to make it 3-1 after a neutral-zone turnover by Washington. Josh Bailey fed Okposo, who scored from the right circle.
Ovechkin chipped into the lead with a close-range wrist shot to make it 3-2 at 16:09.
It was the first playoff point for Ovechkin in seven games, since May 4, 2013. He has 62 points in 60 NHL playoff games and holds Washington's record of 32 playoff goals.
Washington outshot New York 18-7 in the second period.
Backstrom tied it 3-3 on a third-period power play. He beat three Islanders defenders and scored from the slot.
"When you take shots and you converge on loose pucks, that's what you do," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "That's been the strength of our team, and for whatever reason tonight, we had chances to shoot pucks and we didn't. We didn't deserve it. We didn't deserve it. You can see when we started doing some good things and played down low, we got some offensive zone time, but too little, too late."
Capitals forward Tom Wilson returned from an upper-body injury to play the fourth playoff game of his NHL career.