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game recap

Capitals shake up lines, defeat Islanders

Williams scores in OT; Ovechkin gets two

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer

Williams wins game for Capitals

WSH@NYI: Williams scores game-winner in overtime

2/18/16: Justin Williams rips a slap shot that is deflected by an Islanders' defenseman and past Thomas Greiss for the game-winning goal in OT

  • 00:28 •

NEW YORK -- Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz believed his top two lines needed a spark. Changes revealed during warmups Thursday proved to be another winning combination. 

Alex Ovechkin scored twice, and linemate Justin Williams scored with 44 seconds left in overtime to give Washington a 3-2 win against the New York Islanders at Barclays Center. 

For much of the season, Nicklas Backstrom centered Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie on the top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov between Andre Burakovsky and Williams on the second line. Thursday, Trotz put Burakovsky with Backstrom and Oshie, and Kuznetsov with Ovechkin and Williams. 

Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Oshie and Williams each had an assist. 

"It's sometimes a little refreshing," Trotz said. "Sometimes it's like a marriage. You get a line that's a marriage and sometimes the love goes out of the marriage a little bit, so you get it separated a little bit. You get a little vacation from each other. 

"It's just going through the dog days of February. Sometimes the love goes out of the marriage a little bit for a while and they're not like excited, but you get a little bit of separation, a little vacation, and you come back and you're excited again." 

The Capitals (42-10-4) lead the Metropolitan Division and have a seven-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks for the Presidents' Trophy having played five fewer games. Ovechkin leads the NHL with 37 goals, and goalie Braden Holtby made 20 saves for his League-leading 36th win. 

Video: WSH@NYI: Ovechkin nets league-leading 36th goal

Washington overcame Frans Nielsen's game-tying goal with 1:44 left in the third period to move to 9-1-2 in its past 12 games against New York, including 3-0-0 this season. 

"I liked a lot in that game," Trotz said. "I though especially through the first 40 minutes we gave them virtually nothing. I thought [Islanders goalie Thomas] Greiss made some good saves at key times and we just never pulled away. They hung around and got a late goal there, but really we didn't give up too much. I'll take that game every night for the most part." 

John Tavares scored, and Greiss made 32 saves for the Islanders (30-19-7), who lost their first game in Brooklyn this month (4-0-1) and are 19-8-4 at home.

The Islanders earned a point when Nielsen collected a rebound of Travis Hamonic's shot and deflected the puck through traffic past Holtby for his 16th goal, first in eight games. New York was outshot 14-4 in the second period and 35-22 in the game. 

"There was no excuse for not bringing it on a game like this," Nielsen said. "Every night is big right now. We have to find a way to bring it every night from now on and to the end if we want to be in the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]." 

Tavares gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead with his 22nd goal. He started a rush and found Nick Leddy in the middle of three Capitals defenders. Leddy threaded a pass to Tavares' left, and Tavares made a move from his backhand to his forehand around defenseman Nate Schmidt to beat Holtby at 15:41 of the first period and extend his point streak to seven games (five goals, six assists). 

Washington took control in the second period when Ovechkin scored twice in 87 seconds. Kuznetsov collected a loose puck off the boards, skated behind the net and found Ovechkin with a spinning backhand pass. Standing alone in front, Ovechkin beat Greiss glove side to tie the game 1-1 at 1:25. 

Video: WSH@NYI: Ovechkin beats Greiss for power-play goal

"The angle, when [Kuznetsov] made the pass, I was surprised the puck came right on my stick," Ovechkin said. "I just have to do my thing and don't miss the empty net. He knows exactly what he's going to do. It's pretty impressive." 

With Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck in the penalty box for boarding, Ovechkin scored his second of the game. Oshie received a pass along the boards and fed Backstrom skating up the middle. Backstrom found Ovechkin, who beat Greiss with a slap shot at 2:52. Ovechkin has 45 points (30 goals, 15 assists) in 40 games against the Islanders. 

The Capitals are 32-0-1 when leading after two periods, best in the League, and 67-2-4 in two seasons under Trotz, including 58-1-4 when holding a lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in the third period. 

"That's the way we need to play," Holtby said. "We didn't force things. It was a game we needed at this time. We were getting away from a few things, and you can tell the guys felt that way, that we needed to get back to our style of hockey and we did that tonight." 

New York was 0-for-2 on the power play, ending its streak of six straight games scoring with the man-advantage, and played without defenseman Calvin de Haan, who missed his first game of the season with a lower-body injury. 

The Islanders play the first of a seven-game road trip against the New Jersey Devils on Friday. The Capitals begin a four-game homestand against the Devils on Saturday. 

"Every game is going big from here on out," Hamonic said. "In my six years I haven't seen standings this tight, ever. It shows how important these points really are. We fought to get one [point] but it would have been nice to have both."

Video: Capitals edge Islanders in overtime, 3-2

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