Capitals 5, Islanders 2
WASHINGTON (AP)—It was a night for Washington Capitals milestones.
Alex Ovechkin scored goal No. 40—and No. 41—of an amazing rookie year. Olie Kolzig got his 250th career win. Jeff Friesen reached 500 career points.
All on a night in which the Capitals won by three goals, which also doesn’t happen very often. Monday night’s 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders left coach Glen Hanlon spoiled for choice when asked to choose which of the above made him happiest.
“Olie,” Hanlon said. “It’s a team game, but doggone it, he’s been a battler here and it meant a lot to him, and he doesn’t really let on. But on nights like this when he gets a milestone, we just feel great, especially with the commitment he’s made to the community and the hockey team and his wishes to finish his career here.”
The Capitals hope to be saying the same in future years about Ovechkin, who scored in his sixth straight game, matching his best streak, and became the first Capitals player to hit the 40-goal mark since Peter Bondra had 45 in 2000-01.
Ovechkin also added a third-period assist for his 76th point of the season, 10 ahead of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby in the rookie scoring race.
“His consistency is amazing,” Hanlon said. “All first-year players seem to have some peaks and valleys to their game, and Alex is able to continue to play well.”
Ovechkin beat goaltender Garth Snow with a slapshot from the top of the left circle early in the second period for the game’s first goal. He scored again when he stationed himself by the crease during a faceoff and directed Mike Green’s pass into the net with 0.5 seconds remaining in the period, giving the Capitals a 3-1 lead.
In the third period during a power play, Ovechkin supplied the cross-ice pass for Bryan Muir’s one-timer that restored a two-goal lead. Muir added another goal late in the period.
“I don’t look at history,” Ovechkin said. “I enjoy my hockey career here in Washington. … I’m glad I score lots of goals, and I’m glad some goals are winning goals.”
Friesen, a candidate to be moved before Thursday’s trade deadline, had a goal and assist in his 802nd career game.
“Milestones are something that you kind of take with the game,” Friesen said. “I’m been fortunate enough to play 800 games. As an offensive guy, if you stick around that long, you’re going to put up some numbers.”
As for Kolzig, he made 40 saves in win No. 250, tying him with Johnny Bower for 35th place all-time.
“I’ll probably play until I’m 40,” the 35-year-old goaltender said. “But, for now, just two (more) years and we’ll see where it goes after that.”
Arron Asham and Joel Bouchard scored for the Islanders, who missed a chance to move back to .500 for the first time since December. The loss was especially disappointing because Washington is the type of team New York needs to beat to keep from fading completely from the playoff race.
“At this point in time, if you can’t get ready, you’ve got problems,” defenseman Brent Sopel said. “This is playoff hockey. We need the points every single night. It doesn’t matter if the building is empty. We’re playing for ourselves, doesn’t matter where we are. We need the points and we have to be ready to go.”
Islanders C Alexei Yashin was cut when took a skate in the face from Washington’s Ivan Majesky as both fell to the ice in the second period. Yashin returned in the third period. … Snow started in goal in place of Rick DiPietro as the Islanders played the first of back-to-back games. They are home against New Jersey on Tuesday. … Capitals D Jamie Heward, who suffered a head injury when checked into the boards Saturday against Atlanta, did not play. D Steve Eminger returned after missing 16 games with a sprained ankle. … Bouchard’s goal was his first goal of season. … Friesen also had an assist for his 500th career point. … The game was the first in a five-game homestand for the Capitals.