WASHINGTON -- No matter that their hosts looked completely disinterested in last night's game. The Islanders may still be among the NHL's underestimated and disrespected opponents, but they showed a side of themselves that reveals some of the promise that they still hold.
Holding Alex Ovechkin and his Capitals to 17 shots on goal and barely a handful of quality scoring chances, the Islanders grabbed the lead and stayed in control, taking a 3-0 victory against a Washington team that hadn't lost in the Verizon Center since Dec. 13, a seven-game span.
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"We came out and took away their time and space, and played a really solid game," said Evgeni Nabokov, who recorded his 51st career shutout and first as an Islander -- it was the Islanders' first shutout since Feb. 19 of last season. "We scored first and we never changed the game plan."
That plan was to take Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Marcus Johansson out of their usual speed game, and that was well-accomplished -- all six Islanders defensemen played well against that line and the rest of the Caps, especially Ovechkin, who was left to dangle along the wall as his teammates' passes were broken up and turned the other way.
John Tavares extended his point streak to 10 games with a neat redirection of Mark Streit's pass on the Islanders' first power play of the game, at 12:05 of the first. The Islanders had three power plays in the opening period, outshot the Caps 10-5 and kept the play in the opposing zone.
When the Caps turned the tables a bit in the second, the Islanders were ready to capitalize on a mistake. Rookie defenseman Dmitry Orlov made it, throwing a pass into empty space as his forwards rushed up the ice; Frans Nielsen scooped up the puck and dropped it to P.A. Parenteau, who snapped a wrist shot past Tomas Vokoun at 6:05 of the second to give the Isles a 2-0 lead.
"We were really disciplined all over the ice," said Parenteau, who added a slam-dunk, power-play goal at 12:38 of the third to seal it, his first-ever two-goal game in the NHL. "That team has a lot of firepower and they're a good team at home. It's a big team win for us."
The trick now is to keep it going. The Islanders have alternated wins and losses over their last five games, but in reality, they are closer to consistency than it may appear. Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stoned them on Thursday, and a sloppy first 12 minutes killed them against the Predators on Monday afternoon.
But starting from the bottom and trying to work your way up means there's no room for hot goaltenders or lost periods. The Islanders head to Philadelphia Thursday needing to put up points. They have 40 right now and are in a three-way tie for 13th, 10 behind the Caps, who sit in eighth.
"We've played some pretty good hockey, but you need to be mistake-free or close to it this time of year," Travis Hamonic said. "It's time to start stringing together a couple of games like this."