Islanders Blank Capitals — And Somehow Make It Look Easy
WASHINGTON (AP) — Stuck in last place with the schedule more than halfway completed, the New York Islanders can’t wait any longer to make a run toward securing a playoff spot.
Skating with a sense of urgency that seemed to be lacking in the Washington Capitals, the Islanders got two goals from PA Parenteau and cruised to a 3-0 victory Tuesday night.
Evgeni Nabokov stopped 17 shots to hand the Capitals their first shutout of the season and end their seven-game, home-winning streak. The loss also prevented Washington from moving past Florida into first place in the Southeast Division.
Playing the second of back-to-back games and for the fourth time in six days, New York converted three of 28 shots against Tomas Vokoun, who came in 14-3 with a 2.03 goals-against average in 17 starts at home.
“We know we’re playing for our season right now, being 10 points back of a playoff spot,” Parenteau said after his first multigoal performance in 152 career NHL games. “This is a big stretch for us and I think all the boys in this locker room are aware of that. That’s why we came out swinging tonight and were ready to go. We know if we want to stay in the hunt we have to put some wins together.”
It was the 51st career shutout for the 36-year-old Nabokov and first with New York. He has 301 NHL wins, including eight this season.
“We came out and took time and space from the opponent,” the veteran goaltender said. “We played real solid, scored the first goal and we kept going. We never changed the game plan.”
The Islanders hadn’t beaten the Capitals on the road in regulation since Oct. 18, 2007
“They’re a good hockey team. They’re well-coached. They got some firepower on that team,” New York coach Jack Capuano said. “We gave up a few chances, but Nabokov played real well for us. He made some key saves at some key times of that game. You’re not going to shut that team out too much.”
No one had done it since Vokoun blanked Washington for Florida in the final game of the 2010-11 regular season.
“We were too cute around the net,” Capitals coach Dale Hunter said. “They were sliding around all over the place and blocking (passes). We have to get pucks to the net.”
It was the 15th straight game in which the Caps were held under 30 shots, their longest such streak since a 24-game run in 2004.
“We have to start outshooting some teams,” forward Brooks Laich said. “We have great goaltending, but the law of averages is going to catch up with you. We need to find some rhythm offensively and tilt the ice the other way where it’s a constant attack rather than a constant defend.”
John Tavares extended his point streak to a career-best 10 games with a power-play goal at 12:05 of the first period, and that proved to be enough offense to back up a fine performance by Nabokov.
“Especially in the third period,” Parenteau said. “They had some good looks but Nabs has been playing very well for us. Every night he’s in the net it gives a chance to win.”
Parenteau scored in the second and third periods, and Frans Nielsen and Matt Moulson each had two assists.
Tavares put the Islanders up 1-0 by deflecting a shot by Mark Streit past Vokoun. Tavares was positioned on the right side of the net when Streit took a shot from between the circles.
It was the first time in eight home games since Dec. 13 that the Capitals gave up the first goal or trailed at any time.
Washington was outshot 10-5 in the first period and called for three penalties.
Parenteau made it 2-0 at 6:05 of the second period. A poor pass in his own end of the ice by Washington’s Dmitry Orlov was intercepted by Nielsen, who got the puck to Parenteau in the left circle. Parenteau then fired a shot that zipped past Vokoun’s glove inside the left post.
Parenteau clinched it for the Islanders with a power-play goal at 12:38 of the third period.
NOTES: Tavares has six goals and 11 assists during his 10-game run. … The Capitals are 9-2 in their last 11 home games. They play the next three on the road, where they are 7-12-1.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)