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New York Islanders vs. Washington Capitals @NHLdotcom
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GAME: New York Islanders (1-2-0) at Washington Capitals (2-3-0).

TIME: Thursday, 7 p.m. EDT.

Just five games into the season, Alexander Ovechkin is already a contender for the Calder Trophy.

The rookie phenom will look to continue his fast start when he leads the Washington Capitals against the visiting New York Islanders.

Once the lockout ended, Ovechkin, the top pick in the 2004 draft, opted out of his contract with Avangard Omsk of the Russian Super League to join the Capitals.

The 20-year-old Russian has made an immediate impact.

Ovechkin, a 6-foot-2, 212-pound left wing, scored his team-high fourth goal of the season during Wednesday's 7-2 loss at Carolina. He has at least one point in all five games and already has four power-play points.

Washington led by one early in the second period Wednesday before Carolina scored six unanswered goals, including two with the man advantage. The Capitals, who were outshot 21-2 in the third period, have allowed 13 power-play goals in their first five games.

Thursday's game may feature a start by backup goaltender Brent Johnson. Olaf Kolzig allowed six goals on 25 shots before being replaced by Johnson in the third period.

The Islanders are off to a slow start following their 3-1 loss to Florida on Monday, but would be in even worse shape if not for the fine play of goalie Rick DiPietro.

Expected by many to be Team USA's starter at the upcoming Turin Olympics, DiPietro has shaken off a forgettable 6-4 opening night loss to Buffalo, in which he allowed five goals, by stopping 62 of 66 shots (.939 save percentage) over the last two games.

DiPietro's has been the main reason the Islanders have killed off 14 of their last 15 man-down situations.

Big things are also expected this season from winger Miroslav Satan. The Islanders' marquee free agent signing in the offseason, Satan has two goals in three games after not scoring in seven preseason contests.

STANDINGS (through Oct. 11): Islanders - 2 points, 3rd place, 2 PB, Atlantic Division. Capitals - 4 points, 2nd place (tied), 2 PB, Southeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Islanders - Jason Blake and Satan, 2 goals; Brent Sopel, 3 assists and 3 points; Janne Niinimaa, 8 PIM. Capitals - Ovechkin, 4 goals and 6 points; Jeff Halpern, 4 assists; Steve Eminger, 17 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Oct. 11): Islanders - Power play: 15.8 percent (3 for 19), 18th in NHL. Penalty killing: 88.9 percent (24 for 27), 8th (tied). Capitals - Power play: 20.7 percent (6 for 29), 10th. Penalty killing: 75 percent (30 for 40), 26th (tied).

GOALTENDERS: Islanders - DiPietro (1-2-0, 0 SO, 3.02 GAA); Garth Snow (no appearances). Capitals - Kolzig (2-3-0, 0, 4.61); Johnson (0-0-0, 0, 4.99).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.

LAST MEETING: March 23, 2004; Islanders, 3-0. At Uniondale, N.Y., Alexei Yashin had a goal and an assist and DiPietro made 17 saves for New York.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Islanders - 0-1-0 on the road; Capitals - 2-1-0 at home.

Associated Press
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