NHL: Islanders pull away from Capitals with Alex Ovechkin out
Brock Nelson, Anders Lee and Kyle Palmieri all scored power-play goals and Semyon Varlamov carried a shutout into the final minute of the third period Thursday night as the host New York Islanders again damaged the Washington Capitals’ hopes of escaping a wild-card spot with a 5-1 win in Elmont, N.Y.
Jean Gabriel-Pageau and Josh Bailey also scored for the Islanders (37-34-10, 84 points), who beat the Capitals 4-1 in the opener of a home-and-home set Tuesday. Varlamov made 26 saves.
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored with 41.4 seconds left and goalie Vitek Vanecek recorded 21 saves for the Capitals (44-25-12, 100 points), who have lost three straight (0-2-1) and four of five (1-2-2).
Washington was without star left winger Alex Ovechkin, who missed a second straight game with an upper-body injury.
In order to finish in third place in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals need to beat New York Rangers Friday while the Pittsburgh Penguins fall in regulation to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The third-place finisher in the Metropolitan will play the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs while the fourth-place finisher will be the second wild card and draw the NHL-leading Florida Panthers.
Nelson went to one knee and fired a shot between Vanecek’s arm and glove to open the scoring with 9:12 left in the first. The teams combined for three penalties — an unsportsmanlike call on the Capitals’ John Carlson, a tripping call on teammate Justin Schultz and another tripping call on the Islanders’ Adam Pelech — in a 49-second span leading up to Lee’s goal with 4:26 remaining, when the New York captain redirected a shot by Mathew Barzal.
The Islanders iced the victory with three goals in a span of just under 10 minutes in the third. Pageau outraced Nicklas Backstrom to a loose puck in the neutral zone before scoring an unassisted goal at 3:44. Palmieri scored on the power play with 13:37 left and Bailey scored with 6:23 remaining.
–Field Level Media