Capitals extend lead in Metropolitan, defeat Islanders
Holtby gets first win since March 3; six players score to finish home-and-home sweepby Brian McNally / NHL.com Correspondent
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals extended their lead in the Metropolitan Division with a 6-3 win against the New York Islanders at Capital One Arena on Friday.
The Capitals (41-23-7) have won four in a row and are two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins with one fewer game played.
Braden Holtby made 22 saves in his first start since March 6, winning for the first time since March 3.
[WATCH: All Islanders vs. Capitals highlights]
"It felt a lot better," Holtby said. "Not that I was feeling horrible before, but I felt very fresh. It was like anything, the week after the holiday or something, you come back a little refreshed."
John Tavares, Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson scored for the Islanders (30-31-10), who have lost 10 of their past 11 games (1-6-4), including 7-3 to the Capitals on Thursday.
Jaroslav Halak made 25 saves for New York, which is 10 points behind the New Jersey Devils for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.
Video: NYI@WSH: Halak turns aside Kuznetsov and Ovechkin
"It's been a rough go for a few weeks here," Tavares said. "We're trying to build on some good things and play at a high level ... a few too many mistakes. I know the commit is there and the work ethic is there. It's frustrating that we're not able to put it all together."
T.J. Oshie tipped an Alex Ovechkin shot on the power-play at 14:33 of the first period for a 1-0 lead. Barzal tied it 1-1 with a power-play goal at 5:30 of the second period.
Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:42 later during a 5-on-3 power play for a 2-1 lead, and Matt Niskanen made it 3-1 at 17:55.
Video: NYI@WSH: Niskanen whips top-shelf wrister past Halak
Backstrom's goal came after Islanders forward Ross Johnston was given a game misconduct for slamming his helmet after an instigator penalty for fighting Tom Wilson. Cal Clutterbuck took an interference penalty 11 seconds later.
Alex Chiasson's power-play goal at 1:46 of the third period was challenged by New York for goalie interference, but the goal was upheld for a 4-1 lead. Jakub Vrana made it 5-1 at 10:56.
"We had a feeling they were going to come out hard after [losing Thursday]," Oshie said. "We didn't want to get too full of ourselves or too happy. We still want to put ourselves in the best position we can for the postseason."
Nelson's power-play goal at 13:52 and Tavares' power-play goal at 16:14 made it 5-3. Holtby then had to make a pad save on Barzal with 3:20 left after a stretch pass from Josh Bailey.
Video: NYI@WSH: Tavares snaps home wrister for PPG
Lars Eller scored an empty-net goal at 18:02 for the 6-3 final.
Trotz would not name a starting goalie for a division game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Philipp Grubauer won three in a row starting the four games previous to this one.
"You want to build a little bit of traction, so you've got to start somewhere," Trotz said. "You've got to take that first step up the ladder and today [Holtby] did."
Goal of the game
Backstrom's goal at 7:12 of the second period.
Video: NYI@WSH: Backstrom jams home loose puck for PPG
Save of the game
Holtby's save on Barzal at 16:40 of the third period.
Video: NYI@WSH: Holtby shuts the door on Barzal late
Highlight of the game
Oshie's goal at 14:33 of the first period.
Video: NYI@WSH: Oshie redirects Ovechkin's shot for PPG
They said it
"You can't sit in the box against that team. We lost two guys. We battled. It wasn't as hard as we wanted to play in the first, but we took three penalties and guys battled physically, they worked hard. They'll probably say it was an easy game, but we worked hard." -- Islanders coach Doug Weight referencing postgame comments by Capitals players Thursday
"For the most part this year, we've had some guys go on long dry spells and [Ovechkin has] been the consistency to our equation of winning hockey games. We're going to score on the power play or Ovi's going to score or a chip in from someone else. But there's been some dry spells, and right now everybody's sort of getting on the mark here." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz on Washington scoring 13 goals in two games with none from Ovechkin
Need to know
Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body) left the game with six seconds left in the second period after being slashed and falling into the boards. He will be re-evaluated Saturday. … Clutterbuck left with an undisclosed injury in the second period. Weight had no update on his condition. … Oshie scored for the second game in a row after breaking a 19-game drought with two goals Thursday. … The teams combined for 13 power plays; the Capitals went 3-for-8, the Islanders went 3-for-5.
Islanders: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; MSG+, FS-CR, NHL.TV)
Capitals: At the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NHLN, NBCSP, NBCSWA, NHL.TV)