Had the crowd not been littered with red jerseys, the Islanders second straight loss would’ve spoiled the night for the 16,250 in attendance, the first sellout crowd of the season.
But the sizeable Caps contingent must have been pleased with the comeback effort of their team. Trailing 2-0 in the second, the Capitals rattled off three straight to topple the Islanders 3-2 at Nassau Coliseum.
With the Islanders buzzing after a dominant first period, the Capitals appeared to be headed for beatings in back-to-back nights.
But following an embarrassing 6-0 shutout loss at home against the Rangers Thursday, the Capitals seized momentum in the second and scored three unanswered goals.
“I think we let off the gas a little bit,” said Travis Hamonic, who tallied the Islanders’ second goal. “Whenever you do against a team like that, they’re going to bring the offense.”
Trailing for the first two periods, the Capitals tied the game at 2 early in the third period.
Brooks Laich slithered a pass through the crease to find Mike Knuble in front at 2:24. Alexander Semin then stickhandled his way to the high slot and ripped off a shot that gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead minutes later at 5:41.
“You give them a little bit of life and they run away with it,” said goaltender Al Montoya, who made 19 saves.
It was a far cry from the first period.
Held without a shot until 11:51 into play, the Capitals fell behind 1-0 after Kyle Okposo’s wrister from the slot gave the Islanders the lead at 13:48.
The goal—his 3rd of the season—came during a brief span when the Islanders had only four defensemen at their disposal.
Already depleted with injuries to veteran Radek Martinek (lower body) and Milan Jurcina (groin), the Islanders saw Bruno Gervais go down, then rookie Travis Hamonic. Both were pegged with shots; Gervais took one to the face while sitting on the bench and Hamonic was nailed with a deflection to the hip.
Both returned later in the period, a relief given the team’s recent losses. The Islanders played most of the whole game Tuesday against Toronto with five defenseman and half of the third period with only four.
Hamonic appeared just fine 33 seconds into the second period, giving the Islanders a 2-0 lead with his knuckler from the blue line.
But once the Capitals got on the board, momentum distinctly shifted in the Capitals’ favor.
Brooks Laich cut the Islanders lead 2-1, at 9:44, scoring the Capitals first regulation goal since the second period of their 1-0 win against Pittsburgh Monday.
“They had a little more in the tank then they showed in the first,” Montoya said. “They took some momentum after that first goal—which I would like to have back—and it’s a tough outcome for the group. I think we deserved to win.”
Laich picked up his second point of the night with his assist on Knuble’s equalizer in the third, a little more than three minutes before Semin’s go-ahead goal.
“Some of their skill took over at the end,” coach Jack Capuano said.