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Islanders 5, Capitals 3 @NHLdotcom

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - For Jason Blake and the New York Islanders, positive signs were a long time coming.

Blake scored a power-play goal with 4:43 left and then added an empty-netter to lead New York to a 5-3 victory over the Washington Capitals that stretched the Islanders' winning streak to a season-high three games on Tuesday night. It was Blake's first goals in 14 games, dating to Dec. 30.

Blake took a cross-ice pass from Alexei Yashin in the lower right circle and roofed a wrist shot past goalie Olaf Kolzig. He sealed the win with 12.1 seconds remaining.

``It's nice to get the monkey off my back,'' Blake said. ``I got a nice pass from Yash and had plenty of time to shoot. Actually, it was more than enough time. I was squeezing the stick a bit.''

Oleg Kvasha scored twice, and Miroslav Satan added a goal for New York, now six points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Rick DiPietro stopped 26 shots.

``Jason had two big goals,'' Islanders coach Brad Shaw said. ``It was nice to see a smile on his face after the game. It's a big relief for him, and adds another weapon to our arsenal.''

Brian Willsie and Matt Pettinger had a goal and assist each for Washington. Jeff Friesen also scored for the Capitals, who had 28 saves from Kolzig.

The Capitals played without rookie standout Alex Ovechkin, who missed his first game of the season with what the club termed a lower body injury, believed to be a groin.

Capitals coach Glen Hanlon was pleased with the effort.

``This is part of the progression of being a good team, having these pieces slide together,'' Hanlon said. ``Ollie was outstanding. He was our best player out there.''

Before Washington's first power play, the Islanders were outshooting the Capitals 8-2. But by the time there were 7 seconds left in the penalty, the Capitals had five more shots and a 1-0 lead.

Willsie, parked just outside the crease, tipped Matt Pettinger's shot past DiPietro.

New York tied it 58 seconds later when Kvasha scored off a pass from Shawn Bates. His left slot wrist shot beat Kolzig to the short side.

Pettinger put the Capitals back in front with a power-play goal 44 seconds into the second period. Willsie's centering pass bounced off Pettinger's skate and went in. The play went to video review, and the goal stood.

``Our penalty killing struggled,'' Shaw said. ``We were good at five-on-five.''

Kvasha tied it again at 8:16 when he found a loose puck in the left circle and one-timed a shot past Kolzig.

New York took its first lead, 3-2, at 4:48 of the final period when Satan wristed a rebound past Kolzig for his team leading 20th goal.

The euphoria of the 10,269 in attendance lasted only 18 seconds before Friesen tied it with his second goal of the season.

``We didn't play our best hockey, but the bottom line is that we won,'' Blake said. ``We don't have tons of talent, so the way we're going to have the best chance to win is by hard work.''

Hanlon said tiredness was his team's biggest problem without top-scoring forwards Ovechkin and Dainius Zubrus.

``I haven't seen the final numbers yet, but when Ovechkin plays, he averages about 25 minutes a game,'' Hanlon said. ``These other guys are used to nine or 10 minutes. Now, they're playing 18 to 20 minutes, and I saw some fatigue set in a bit late in the game.''

The Islanders will face the Rangers next on Thursday night at home. The Rangers are 17 points ahead of the Islanders in the Atlantic Division.

``Right now, in my opinion, they have the best player in the league with Jaromir Jagr,'' Blake said. ``We're trying to gain points against a rival, as well as gain points to get a playoff spot.''

Notes: Islanders forward Kevin Colley injured his neck with 74 seconds left in the opening period when he missed a check on Washington defenseman Jamie Heward and crashed head first into the boards. He had full feeling in his body, and was taken to North Shore Hospital for observation. ... Not only were the Capitals missing Ovechkin, they were also without their second-highest goal scorer, Zubrus, who was out with an upper body injury - believed to be his arm. ... The Capitals, who beat Tampa Bay on Sunday, lost their previous three games. That came after a four-game winning streak, which was preceded by a six-game winless streak that included two overtime losses.

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