Kuemper stops 17 shots, Capitals beat Islanders 5-1
NEW YORK (AP) —
Dylan Strome and T.J. Oshie scored first-period goals, Darcy Kuemper made 17 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the New York Islanders 5-1 on Saturday night.
Anthony Mantha, Nic Dowd and Nicklas Backstrom also scored in the third period for the Capitals, who improved to 4-2-1 in their last seven games following a six-game losing streak to further tighten the Eastern Conference playoff race. Rasmus Sandin had three assists and Trevor van Riemsdyk had two.
“We were very good defensively,'' said Sandin, who was acquired by the Capitals from Toronto on Feb. 28 and playing his fourth game for Washington and had his second with three assists. ”Tonight the whole team felt great."
Pierre Engvall scored his first goal for the Islanders since being acquired at the trade deadline, and Semyon Varlamov finished with 22 saves as New York snapped a three-game win streak.
The Islanders were coming off a 4-3 come-from-behind overtime win at Pittsburgh on Thursday — their eighth third-period comeback victory of the season — but they couldn’t find any late magic against the Capitals, who moved within five points of the Islanders and Penguins for the Eastern Conference's two wild cards.
“We definitely weren’t good enough tonight,″ Islanders captain Anders Lee said. ”We had chances to pop one and change the momentum and we couldn’t do that.”
After Engvall opened the scoring at 5:18 of the first, Strome and Oshie scored to put the Capitals ahead before the first intermission.
Engvall, also acquired from Toronto on Feb. 28 and playing his fourth game with the Islanders, gave them early momentum with his unassisted goal — his 13th overall this season. Strome tied it as he beat Varlamov at 6:41 with his 16th goal.
Oshie made it 2-1 with his 17th goal with 47 seconds left in the first. He has 10 points in last eight games.
“It was very important for us to play a complete team game like that,'' Oshie said. ”That was one of our most complete games."
After a scoreless second period, Mantha made it 3-1 at 4:15 of the third with his 10th goal.
Dowd made it 4-1 at 12:18 with his 11th before Backstrom completed the scoring with his fourth at 13:19.
“We had that great response to tie it, got that second one and pulled away in the third,″ Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. ”Everybody was on point and Kemps was really good tonight.”
With the victory, the Capitals improved to 11-6-2 against Metropolitan Division opponents this season.
The Islanders are 4-1-1 in their last six games and 11-4-3 since Jan. 27.
Their next three games will be at Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose before returning home to meet Toronto on March 21.
“We have to have a one-game-at-a-time mindset and have a positive road trip,'' said Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck, who returned to the lineup for the first time since Jan. 19 after missing 20 games.
As part of their 50th anniversary season celebration, the Islanders honored Hall-of-Fame center Bryan Trottier, who played for all four Stanley Cup-winning teams from 1980-83. Trottier is the franchise leader in games played with 1,123. His 1,353 points — including 500 goals — over 15 seasons with the Islanders is also a team record.
Islanders forward Zach Parise, 38, played in his 150th consecutive game as an Islander. He has played in every game since joining the team in October 2021. Parise has 16 goals and 10 assists in 68 games this season.
NOTES: The Capitals earlier Saturday re-signed D van Riemsdyk to a $9 million, three-year contract that carries a $3 million annual salary cap hit. ... Islanders F Matt Martin played in his 752nd game for the Islanders to tie Mike Bossy for seventh on the franchise list.
Capitals: At the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.
Islanders: At Los Angeles on Tuesday night to open a three-game West Coast trip.
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Allan Kreda, The Associated Press