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Tavares scores in overtime, Islanders defeat Capitals

by Staff

John Tavares scored a power-play goal with 24 seconds remaining in overtime to give the New York Islanders a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals at Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday.

Tavares took a cross-ice pass from Ryan Strome in the right-wing circle, deked Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner to the ground, skated into the slot and shot past goalie Braden Holtby, who was screened by Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk. The goal came with two seconds remaining on a holding the stick penalty on Washington forward Nicklas Backstrom.

“Lucky enough, I just kind of made a move and cleared some ice and hit the target,” Tavares said of his ninth goal of the season.

The Islanders (16-6-0) won their fifth in a row and 10th of 11, and they are undefeated in seven extra-time games this season. Goalie Jaroslav Halak made 25 saves for his eighth straight win.

“We didn’t play our best game tonight, but because we’re kind of on a roll, we have that confidence, and pucks are going our way [so] we can come out with wins,” Islanders forward Anders Lee told MSG Network.

The game was a Thanksgiving Eve sellout.

“It’s been absolutely unbelievable playing in front of [the home crowd] right now,” Tavares told MSG Network. “The atmosphere’s been incredible and the guys are really feeding off it, so we appreciate it and we’re going to try to keep this thing going.”

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who left practice Tuesday with a minor upper-body injury, scored two power-play goals.

Washington (9-8-4) has led for fewer than six minutes in its past six games but has won two.

"All the games are tight, we've been chasing all the games, it seems," Washington coach Barry Trotz told Monumental Network. "It's a good point in this building. I don't look at this as a negative, I look at it as a positive. Here's a team that's won 10 of their last 11 games, they've beaten the best in the East ... and we came in and we went toe to toe with them, we lost on a power play in overtime. That was a real good effort by us."

The teams play again Friday at Verizon Center.

“When you play back to back like this, the momentum from tonight, the physicality, everything carries over for sure,” Lee said.

Ovechkin scored with 1:13 left in the second period to tie it 2-2. Backstrom sent a diagonal pass from below the goal line to Ovechkin just inside the left circle, where he one-timed it past Halak.

Lee was serving a roughing penalty along with a fighting major levied against him and Tom Wilson.

Ovechkin has 24 goals in 34 games against the Islanders.

"We played the right way to win," Capitals forward Marcus Johansson told Monumental Network. "If we play like this on Friday, I'm pretty sure we're going to get more than one point. ... If we play like we did today against a team like this we're going to get a lot of points."

The Islanders took a 1-0 lead 5:11 into the game when Strome gathered a forehand clearing attempt by Holtby. Strome passed to Brock Nelson along the right-wing boards, and Nelson sent a give-and-go pass back to Strome. He flubbed the shot, but it acted as a pass to Anders Lee, who tapped it in.

“Nice little play from Brock, he got it up to Strome, and a little shot on net, I just happened to find it right in front there,” Lee said.

Ovechkin tied it 1-1 at 13:46. After an Islanders icing, New York’s Matt Martin was called for holding in the defensive zone. Washington’s Troy Brouwer won the faceoff, and a triangular passing play from Backstrom to Matt Niskanen wound up with Ovechkin scoring on a one-timer from the left faceoff dot.

The goal ended Halak’s shutout streak at 121:57, which included a 1-0 shootout win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday.

Travis Hamonic gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 17:38 of the first. Late in a power play, Casey Cizikas won the faceoff back to Cal Clutterbuck, who passed to Hamonic. He moved to his right and scored on a wrist shot. It was the 12th goal by an Islanders defenseman this season; they had 23 all of last season.

Islanders defensemen Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey were back in the lineup after missing the game Monday because of illness. Matt Donovan and Brian Strait were scratched. Capitals defenseman Jack Hillen played his second game of the season, first since Oct. 9.

Washington visits the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. New York plays at the New Jersey Devils.

The Islanders, who did not win their 16th game last season until Jan. 7, are 10-2-0 this month.

“Obviously, the biggest thing right now, it’s still November,” Lee said. “Obviously we’ve had a great start and we want to continue that and continue moving forward. But we’re not going to get too caught up in all of this.”

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