WASHINGTON - It was quick and it was painful.
The Islanders went from cycling the Caps in the offensive zone early in the second period searching for a goal to giving them a two-goal lead to a complete breakdown in a matter of minutes.
The Caps scored four times in a 5:04 span of the second -- there was even an Isles goal in there, though that was just a brief respite. Washington scored five total in the middle period and took off on a 6-2 rout of the Islanders last night at the Verizon Center.
Evgeni Nabokov, who got the start due in part to a 12-1-3 career record against the Caps (3-0-3 as an Islander), did himself no favors in the second period, but he was left helpless on a few of the Caps goals. Led by Alex Ovechkin, who returned from a two-game absence because of a shoulder injury, the Caps revved up their offense, going 4-for-5 on the power play.
"It should be embarrassing," John Tavares said. "We start off OK, but I don't know why we can't stick with it. We have to challenge ourselves when we get some adversity. These are things we can control."
Tavares' goal at the close of a power play 5:58 into the game held up into the second, and Tavares' line had a strong opening shift of the second, penning the Caps in deep. But the Isles couldn't grab the extra goal and then they fell apart.
Kyle Okposo and Tavares tried to chip pucks past Caps defenseman John Carlson at the Isles blue line, but neither could. Carlson cruised in and beat Nabokov low to the stick side at 3:06 to tie the score.
Cal Clutterbuck took an ill-advised tripping penalty to send Washington to the power play at 4:18. At 4:21 the Caps had the lead as Nicklas Backstrom beat Casey Cizikas on a faceoff and Ovechkin snapped a long-range wrist shot past Nabokov.
Okposo tied the game 17 seconds later with a wrist shot past Braden Holtby on the rush, but the Caps kept driving the net and the Isles defense had no answers. Matt Carkner went off for slashing Martin Erat as the Caps forward drove in for a chance. At 6:50, Marcus Johansson scored from Nabokov's doorstep with Cizikas unable to push Johansson out of harm's way.
At 8:10, after a strong drive to the net by Tom Wilson drew another delayed penalty, Wilson swept the puck through the slot and Alexander Urbom beat Nabokov with a long slap shot. Jack Capuano stuck with Nabokov despite the 4-2 deficit. It went to 5-2 when Ovechkin scored his second on the power play off a feed from Johansson.
"We lost the game in 15 minutes, simple as that," said Nabokov, who totaled 33 saves, giving up a late power-play goal to Wilson. "The consistency is not there, the discipline is not there. We have a good period, a good 10 minutes where we do whatever we want to and then . . . "
Capuano hinted that he may change his penalty-killing units for Friday's game in Raleigh, though the units on the ice for the Caps' onslaught Wednesday night were well aware of what went on.
"We were terrible," Matt Martin said. "The penalty killers didn't give our team a chance to do anything."