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game recap

Capitals rally past Islanders in Game 4, stay alive in East First Round

Ovechkin scores twice, Holtby makes 24 saves for Washington, which trailed by two early

by Brian Compton @BComptonNHL / Deputy Managing Editor

Ovechkin's second goal of game

WSH@NYI, Gm4: Ovechkin rips snap shot home for lead

R1, Gm4: Alex Ovechkin carries into the zone and blisters the puck into the net, putting the Capitals ahead with his second goal of the game

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Alex Ovechkin scored twice, including the tiebreaking goal in the third period, and the Washington Capitals rallied for a 3-2 win against the New York Islanders to avoid elimination in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Tuesday. 

Ovechkin scored on a 2-on-1 at 3:40 of the third period to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead. It was his 69th Stanley Cup Playoff goal, moving him past Gordie Howe and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby for 18th in NHL history. 

"If we're going to play like that, we have a pretty good chance to come back," Ovechkin said. "But we're going to take a game at a time, and we get one. It's only one and we move on to the next one." 


[WATCH: All Capitals vs. Islanders highlights]


Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist, and Braden Holtby made 24 saves for Washington, the No. 3 seed in the East. 

Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mathew Barzal scored for the Islanders, the No. 6 seed. Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves. 

Game 5 of the best-of-7 series will be played in Toronto, the hub city for the East, on Thursday. 

"Look, we talked about this being the toughest game to win, that was no different tonight," New York captain Anders Lee said. "We've just got to regroup and go back at it. It's a difficult thing to close out a team, and we've put ourselves in a phenomenal position with the first three games. Now you have to take advantage of it. 

"But all these series, they're tough series. There's a lot of pride on both ends. You expect it to be tough."

There have been 194 best-of-7 playoff series when a team lost the first three games; 73 made it to Game 5, and 22 reached Game 6. 

Washington is attempting to become the fifth team to win a series after trailing 3-0. 

"Make no mistake, if we don't work that hard again, we're not going to have success," Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. "We need to match that work ethic and that compete that we showed for sure in the final 50 minutes of the game." 

Washington trailed 2-0 midway through the first period but tied it with goals 1:54 apart early in the second. 

Kuznetsov made it 2-1 during a 4-on-4 at 3:35. He powered his way to net from the right-wing boards and scored five-hole on Varlamov when Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock poked the puck from his stick. 

Video: WSH@NYI, Gm4: Ovechkin rockets home PPG to tie game

Ovechkin tied it 2-2 with a one-timer from the left circle on a power play at 5:29. 

"We stopped shooting the puck and we started holding the puck," Kuznetsov said. "We started enjoying the hockey game, and that's what gives us success. I believe that it's very hard to defend when guys wear you down for 45 seconds, 50 seconds." 

The Capitals outshot the Islanders 15-7 in the second. 

"We took penalties, unnecessary penalties," New York coach Barry Trotz said. "That gave them some momentum, they got back on track and it was a one-shot game after that." 

Pageau made it 1-0 on a redirection of Scott Mayfield's shot from the right point at 3:50 of the first, and Barzal scored at 9:16 when he took a pass from Nick Leddy and quickly put a shot under Holtby's left arm to give New York a 2-0 lead. 

Video: WSH@NYI, Gm4: Leddy, Barzal team up to double lead

Reirden used the Capitals' timeout after Barzal's goal. 

"I think I started to see it [turn] in the second half of the first period," Reirden said. "We started to get some good visuals of how we have to play if we're going to continue to be a part of this tournament and be in the playoffs. 

"We started to impose our will a little bit and tilt the ice in our favor by getting some offensive-zone shifts. That's mandatory for us to have success as a team." 

New York was 0-for-5 on the power play and is 1-for-19 in the series. 

"They got a big one there with Ovi on their power play, and we had looks tonight," Barzal said. "We've got to find a way to put one in the back of the net. We knew coming into this series special teams was probably going to be a deciding factor in some games, and not that it was tonight, but for them to get that second goal, that was huge for them. … We've just got to make an adjustment. Their [penalty kill] has done well with watching video obviously and taking away our options, so we've got to do the same and try to find a way to exploit it a bit." 

Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck did not play in the third period after a hit from Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas at 15:14 of the second. Trotz said he expects to have an update on Clutterbuck's condition Wednesday. 

"I'll look at it again, [but] anytime you come low on a guy like that, that's always sort of a little bit of an unwritten rule," Trotz said. "But Cal could've got rid of the puck a little sooner, that's for sure." 

Washington center Nicklas Backstrom (concussion protocol) missed his third straight game. Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary (unfit to play) was replaced by defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler. 

Video: Ovi scores twice, helps Caps stave off elimination

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