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Islanders recover to top Capitals in overtime

by Brian Compton

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- For the fourth time in December, the New York Islanders blew a three-goal lead. This time, they won the game.

Johnny Boychuk's power-play goal with 2:07 left in overtime gave the Islanders a 4-3 victory against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum on Monday.

Anders Lee, Lubomir Visnovsky and Calvin de Haan scored for the Islanders (24-11-1), who allowed a 3-0 lead to slip away in the third period for a second straight game. New York dropped a 4-3 shootout decision at the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

Jaroslav Halak won for the 18th time in his past 20 starts with 23 saves.

New York was awarded a four-minute power play with 1:04 remaining in the third period when Evgeny Kuznetsov was given a double minor for high-sticking. The man-advantage carried into overtime, and Boychuk received a pass from Ryan Strome and beat Holtby with a slap shot from the edge of the left circle.

"We had a three-goal lead the last game and a three-goal lead today, and you can't be blowing those kind of leads," Boychuk said. "But we found a way to get a win when they did have that comeback, and it's another two points."

The Islanders moved into a tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division and managed to avoid what would have been another bad loss, this time in front of the home fans. New York begins a seven-game road trip Wednesday at the Winnipeg Jets.

"I'll take both third periods," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "I know that you look at the games and we gave up the goals, but from a structural standpoint, we lost two draws and they score.

"We dictated the pace in Buffalo and we dictated the pace here tonight and we've got to continue to play like that."

Washington (18-11-7) roared back in the third period with goals from Eric Fehr, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin to earn a point in the standings. Braden Holtby made 35 saves in his 13th straight start.

The Capitals are off until Thursday, when they'll host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

"There's a lot of reasons to pack it in and go away and we didn't," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "That was the one thing I did like."

Lee gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead 8:15 into the game. Thomas Hickey took a cross-ice feed from Ryan Strome and let go a wrist shot from the left point that Lee redirected past Holtby for his eighth goal of the season.

New York outshot Washington 11-6 in the first period.

"We can't start an important game like that," Ovechkin said. "They outplayed us, they outbattled us, and you can see the results."

The Islanders made it 2-0 with a power-play goal at 10:06 of the second period. After Tom Wilson was penalized for holding the stick, Visnovsky's slap shot from the left point hit Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik and got past Holtby to make it 2-0. Visnovsky was credited with his third goal of the season.

Halak made 10 saves in the second, including a pad stop on Joel Ward's redirection less than five minutes into the period.

De Haan scored shorthanded 1:41 into the third period. Moments before an interference penalty on Brock Nelson was set to expire, de Haan took a pass from John Tavares and beat Holtby with a slap shot from inside the left point to make it 3-0. It was de Haan's first goal in 32 games this season; he hadn't scored since March 10 at the Vancouver Canucks.

"The first two periods were unacceptable, and at the start of the third we gave up another one," Capitals forward Brooks Laich said. "At the end of the day you can say, 'Oh yeah, we can pat ourselves on the back, we got ourselves a point when we were down 3-0.' But why are we down 3-0? We didn't play well enough in the first 40 minutes, and that's not the way we played in Pittsburgh (on Saturday, a 3-0 win). We thought we were finding our identity. We didn't play that way tonight. We've got to be better."

Fehr scored with 15:20 remaining in the third period when he drove to the net and swatted Laich's feed past Halak to make it 3-1. It was Fehr's 10th goal of the season and third in the past two games.

Backstrom made it 3-2 1:49 later with his 12th goal of the season. After de Haan was caught pinching near Washington's blue line, Ovechkin sent Backstrom in alone on a breakaway, and he beat Halak with a wrist shot to make it 3-2.

Ovechkin tied the game with 2:41 left when he collected the puck after Backstrom won a faceoff in the Islanders zone and beat Halak with a wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle. It was Ovechkin's 17th goal of the season.

"If we were playing poorly, it'd be one thing," Capuano said. "I've been here when we played poorly and teams have come back, but you know faceoffs are a huge part of the game. We lost one battle on a faceoff and the other one, [they] win it clean. [Ovechkin] lines up there quite a bit, guys know where he's gonna be. Obviously it was a great shot and it's in the back of the net."

Trotz said New York's inability to protect leads of late wasn't discussed in Washington's dressing room during the second intermission.

"Never even mentioned it," Trotz said. "Didn't even mention it. I was just more worried about our team. I just thought we weren't playing to the standard that I'd like to see us play at. That was the biggest disappointment."

Orpik left the game with 7:20 remaining in the third period with what appeared to be an injury to his right leg. He was involved in an awkward collision with Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck behind the Capitals net and needed to be helped to the dressing room. Orpik was given a two-minute roughing penalty on the play that was served by Michael Latta.

"Not as bad as it looked, so that's a good thing," Trotz said when asked for an update on Orpik's condition.


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