WASHINGTON -- When the game is on the line, the Washington Capitals know they have an advantage most other teams don't: Alex Ovechkin.
"He's had to do this, be the clutch guy, him and [Nicklas Backstrom], since he's got here," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "That's not foreign to him. That's a big weapon for us, obviously."
Ovechkin returned from a one-game suspension and scored the game-winning goal with 2:40 remaining in Washington's 3-2 victory against the New York Islanders at Verizon Center on Thursday.
During his NHL career, Ovechkin has scored 86 game-winners. He has six in 47 games this season, and the Capitals know they can count on their captain to deliver when it matters the most.
"He's a goal-scorer," said goalie Braden Holtby, who made 24 saves for his League-leading 31st victory. "That's what we need him to do. He came through in the right time. That's the way our team is ... every guy has their role and everyone seems to be doing it. That's Ovi's role, and he did it tonight."
Forwards T.J. Oshie and Andre Burakovsky scored for the Capitals (36-9-4), who won for the first time in three games (1-1-1).
Video: NYI@WSH: Backstrom holds puck, sets up Oshie's goal
"It's our mentality," Ovechkin said. "We lost one, we have to bounce back and bounce to a winning situation. We have an experienced group of guys here. We have good leadership and coaching staff who tell us we can't lose two in a row."
Forwards Mikhail Grabovski and Josh Bailey scored for the Islanders (26-17-6), and Jaroslav Halak made 20 saves in his first start since Jan. 25.
"One of the best games we've played in this building and still come away with no points," New York coach Jack Capuano said. "They got some timely scoring, and No. 8 (Ovechkin) was in a good spot."
Grabovski opened the scoring at 1:55 of the first period, tapping the rebound from Bailey's shot past a sprawling Holtby for his ninth goal.
Oshie tied it 1-1 at 7:28 of the first. Backstrom fed a spin-around pass to a streaking Oshie, who beat Halak with a slap shot from the slot for his 16th of the season.
"Including tonight, the last three games, our opponents have played like it's a playoff game, and we weren't really up to that speed," Oshie said. "I think tonight we caught up to it and I think everything else followed after that."
Burakovsky's 4-on-4 goal with 1:18 left in the second period gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead. Jason Chimera's shot ended up on the goal line, and Burakovsky tapped it in for his ninth goal.
When leading after two periods, the Capitals are an NHL-best 27-0-1.
Burakovsky, who has scored five goals in the past four games and is on a five-game point streak, has 12 points in 13 games since being promoted to Washington's second line. He said newfound confidence has played a part in his scoring streak.
"When I have confidence, everything is just flowing," Burakovsky said. "I just go with the flow. When you have a hard time, you're thinking more. When you have a lot of confidence, it's easier to do the right things. Right now, I think that's one part why I have so much success right now."
Video: NYI@WSH: Holtby blocks Nielsen's shot, covers puck
Bailey tied it at 5:38 of the third period with his eighth goal. As the Capitals' third line was hemmed in their zone, Islanders defenseman Marek Zidlicky sent a pass to Bailey in the paint.
"It was a great game to play in," New York captain John Tavares said. "We did a lot of good things, the intensity's high. It was tight, not too many power plays, physical, teams were skating well. They just capitalized on their last opportunity, and we didn't capitalize on ours."
Ovechkin scored the game-winner, his 29th goal of the season, on a pass from Backstrom into the high slot.
"We haven't played a lot of games," Trotz said, referring to two games postponed by the East Coast snowstorm of Jan. 22-23 and the All-Star break. "We're used to playing on a more regular basis. We needed it. We got a point two games ago before the break. We lost our last game. We needed to feel how it is to be in a battle again, and getting a win tonight was good. I know the guys feel much better about their game and about themselves than they did the last couple games."
Video: Ovechkin scores late, Capitals defeat Islanders