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Ovechkin, Caps carve out close win vs. Isles

Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby returned from their one-game absences to help the Caps squeak by the Islanders in a 3-2 divisional win. Tied at two with under five to play, it was Ovi who found the open net for the win.

When you ponder level of play, the gap between the New York Islanders and Washington Capitals seems modest.

The standings tell a different story, as the Capitals difference-makers returned and ... well, they made the difference.

Alex Ovechkin couldn’t convert on a key chance or two, but he came through when it mattered, scoring a late game-winner in Washington’s 3-2 victory. Braden Holtby also made his return to Washington’s lineup, holding strong to keep the Islanders from sending the contest into overtime.

To some, Ovechkin and Holtby may very well be the difference between the Capitals and everyone else in the East (if not the NHL).

Andre Burakovsky presents a counter-argument: the Caps also boast enviable support, maybe the best Ovechkin’s seen. While Evgeny Kuznetsov rightfully grabs a lot of attention as Washington’s rising young player, Burakovsky’s starting to show why he came into this season with hype of his own.

The margins can be pretty small in an age of parity, yet the Capitals find themselves with 10 more wins than the Islanders after this game.

Why? The quick, boring answer is that they’re just that much better.