This was shaping up to be another one of those nights in the Coliseum.
A decent start for the Islanders was negated by a tough goal, this one a shot by Washington's Joel Ward that tipped off Marty Reasoner's stick and over Rick DiPietro's shoulder 5:24 into the first period.
The Islanders were down 2-0 after the first Saturday to a Caps team that had won nine of its first 11. The Isles, winless in six straight, were trying to stay positive as their goal drought dragged past the 100-minute mark.
"You're thinking, 'Here we go again,' for sure," said P.A. Parenteau, who was given a five-minute boarding major in the first that was more likely deserving of a minor. "Down 2-0 to a team with a lot of talent . . . It's tough."
But these Islanders are determined to prove last season's 1-17-3 skid was the fluke, not the norm. And, keyed by the newly formed line of Parenteau, Frans Nielsen and Brian Rolston, the Islanders broke through.
Nielsen's soft flip on net early in the second produced a juicy rebound that Nielsen backhanded through Tomas Vokoun's pads. Rolston blasted a 45-footer that Vokoun let through for a 2-2 tie.
And after the teams traded goals in the third, Parenteau dove to sweep the winner home with 1:46 to play, pouncing on the puck as it lay in the crease behind Vokoun, who failed to smother Milan Jurcina's point shot.
The 5-3 win was as big a victory as a team can have before the season is a month old. The Islanders were staring a seven-game winless streak in the face, plus a road trip to Boston, Denver and Vancouver next week.
"We're coming off the 21-game streak from last season, and with the [six-game winless] streak, we had a lot of frustration building," said Matt Martin, who corraled a rebound and beat Vokoun 6:28 into the third period to give the Islanders a short-lived 3-2 lead. "We've been emphasizing getting pucks to the net, and it paid off."
The fact that it paid off against the Capitals, who have frustrated the Islanders time and again the last few seasons with their high-powered squad, meant a little something extra to the Islanders, as well.
They were far from perfect, but they proved you don't need to be to grab a win. DiPietro, beaten by Alex Ovechkin's blast with 1:19 to go in the first and by Brooks Laich's wrist shot on the power play 9:12 into the third, didn't have much to say about his own game.
"It's a win," he said after recording his first victory of the season. "Two points. That's what we've been looking for."
Jack Capuano's reconfigured forward lines worked well -- Michael Grabner meshed with John Tavares, Kyle Okposo and Blake Comeau had some grit working together, and Josh Bailey recorded his first point on Martin's goal.
But it was the Nielsen-Rolston-Parenteau line that generated the most. It wasn't even off good scoring chances, just flinging pucks and bodies to the paint that mattered. Nielsen and Parenteau each had a goal and two assists and Rolston scored his first as an Islander.
"Credit to P.A., he stopped at the blue [crease] and got rewarded for it," Capuano said. "We had to do something [with the lines], because we hadn't gotten goals or results. The guys kept working."
And produced a fairly huge two points when the Islanders absolutely had to have them, and before a reasonable crowd of 14,812 at the Coliseum.