Two scuffling Metropolitan Division teams faced off at UBS Arena on Monday night as the Capitals hit the road to face on the New York Islanders. Both teams sported losing records over the first half of January, putting the first of four matchups between them at a critical juncture with them sitting just three points apart in the standings.
New York jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the first 24 minutes of the contest, demoralizing the Capitals with a 13-7 advantage in shots on goal. However, captain Alex Ovechkin gave his team a shot of energy with a de-skating hit on center Jean-Gabriel Pageau early in the second and they responded by scoring four unanswered goals to get the win in overtime.
Listing center Lars Eller as a healthy scratch for the first time this season, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette once again reshuffled his forward lines Monday to get their offense going. After a slow start, they finally kicked into gear with a pair of goals three minutes apart in the second. Garnet Hathaway got them on the board with a scrappy effort off a rebound before Tom Wilson scored his first goal since returning from a torn ACL on a feed from Nicklas Backstrom.
Winger T.J. Oshie tied the game at the 5:54 mark of the third to help force overtime before defenseman Dmitry Orlov scored the game-winner in overtime to snap the Capitals’ two-game losing skid. The blue-liner orchestrated a breakaway before netting his second overtime goal of the season.
The Capitals did get some bad news on the injury front. Center Nic Dowd was on the receiving end of a hit by Islanders winger Cal Clutterbuck late in the first period that forced him to make the trip to the locker room. He returned to the ice to test things out during a TV timeout but was ruled out during the first intermission with a lower-body injury.
With the win, the Capitals fended off the Islanders from gaining any ground in standings as they pushed their record up to 24-16-6. Darcy Kuemper got the start in net, shaking off his shaky start and a visit from trainers in the third to stop 27 of 30 shots including the last 17 he faced.
Kuemper is expected to cede the crease to Charlie Lindgren on Tuesday when the Capitals face the Minnesota Wild in the second leg of their back-to-back.