The Caps won their fifth straight game on Tuesday as Matt Niskanen scored the game-winner and the insurance tally in a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders.
How it happened: The Islanders struck first in the first period thanks to a bad line change by the Caps. There appeared to be some confusion on the bench over who should be on the ice and Nelson took advantage of all the room he found in front of him, teeing up a beautiful wrist shot to the top shelf. Brett Connolly responded in the second period. Lars Eller did the dirty work with a physical breakout and Connolly deflected in the centering pass. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Jakub Vrana teamed up on the power play later in the second to set up Justin Williams to give the Caps the lead, but the Islanders tied the game up as Nikolay Kulemin deflected a Nick Leddy slap shot past Holtby.
The third period turned into the Matt Niskanen show as he scored twice in the final frame to give the Caps the 4-2 win.
What it means: Tuesday's win was Washington's fifth straight, tied for the longest win streak of the season. The Caps have now improved their record within the Metropolitan Division to 3-4-2 on the season. Washington has earned points in 11 of their last 12 games against the Islanders (8-1-3) and in seven straight road games on the Island (5-0-2).
Scary moment: Islanders forward Casey Cizikas was rushed off the ice early in the first period after taking a skate to the arm. Just one minute into the game Cizikas was on the forecheck against Nicklas Backstrom when he fell to the ice. His momentum carried him along the boards into a scrum where it appears teammate Anders Lee stepped on his left arm (watch the replay here). As Cizikas was rushed to the locker room, he held a towel wrapped tightly around the arm. Proving hockey players are different from normal people, however, Cizikas actually returned to the bench later in the first period and resumed playing.
You shall not pass: Braden Holtby let in two goals on the night, but he slammed the door shut on the Islanders in the third period with three phenomenal saves including a juggling catch right on the goal line. Eleven of Holtby's 25 saves came in the final frame as he protected the Caps' lead.
Nisky business: Niskanen entered Tuesday's game with no goals this season. With his two goals on the night, he now leads the team's defensemen in goals.
Third line’s the charm: The Caps' third line of Connolly, Eller and Vrana combined for four points on the night. Connolly scored his third goal of the season to first get the Caps on the board. Eller played what was his best game as a Cap and Vrana earned the first two assists of his NHL career. Andre Burakovsky, meanwhile, was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.
Hot and cold: With his second-period assist on Vrana's goal, Kuznetsov extended his point streak to five games. Of his 15 points this season, six of them have now come in the past five games. Islanders star John Tavares, meanwhile, saw his five-game point streak snapped as the Caps managed to keep him off the scoresheet.
Look ahead: The Caps wrap up their brief two-game road swing on Friday in Carolina against the Hurricanes. Then it’s a quick turnaround as they host Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.