NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored twice and Hunter Shepard got his second career NHL victory and the Washington Capitals beat the New York Islanders 4-1 Saturday night.
Nic Dowd and Aliaksei Protas also scored as the Capitals won for the third time in four games. The 28-year-old Shepard finished with 36 saves in his second NHL start.
“Everybody was sacrificing their body,” Ovechkin said. “Blocking shots, play smart, play simple and we get the result.”
Alex Romanov scored and Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves as the Islanders lost their fourth straight (0-3-1).
Ovechkin opened the scoring at 9:18 of the first period. Evgeny Kuznetsov won a faceoff in the offensive zone straight to Ovechkin on the edge of the circle.
“It happened so fast, it’s a play they have used for years,” Islanders coach Lane Lambert said of Ovechkin’s goal. “He’s probably scored 60 goals that way. We lost the faceoff clean and it happens just like that. There is no way of stopping it unless it hits our guy and our guy was in position but he also screened our goaltender. It’s one of those things that you just can’t lose the faceoff clean.”
Ovechkin later added an empty-net goal in the closing seconds of the game for his 826th NHL goal. The Capitals' captain is second all-time on the NHL goal-scoring list — 68 shy of Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894.
The Islanders tied the score 1-1 in the final minute of the first period when Romanov notched his first goal of the season. Shepard misplayed a puck behind the net and Bo Horvat set up Romanov for an open-net finish.
Washington scored two goals in a 6:15 stretch during the second period to take a 3-1 lead.
Dowd batted a puck out of midair to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead with 6:55 left in the period. Varlamov made a superb sprawling glove save on Nicolas Aube-Kubel, but Dowd crashed the net and buried the rebound.
“I’m thinking Aube-Kubel is going to score,” Dowd said. “As you play the game you develop good habits and hope to stick with stuff like that. Fading away from the net thinking a guy is going to score is not great practice even if he is going to score. I happened to go stop in front and had a good bounce.”
Protas picked up his first of the season and stretched the Capitals lead to two goals with 40 seconds remaining. Matthew Phillips found Protas all alone in the slot after Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield lost track of his assignment.
“We got to take ownership ourselves and find a way to get it done,” Horvat said of the Islanders' recent struggles. “I truly believe that we have a really good group of hockey players in here and a really good hockey team. It’s on us when we lose these games and we are not scoring goals and not doing the right things.”
Capitals: Host Vegas on Tuesday night.
Islanders: At Edmonton on Tuesday night to begin a four-game trip.
AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL