Islanders 5, Capitals 0
Ovechkin came to Long Island in search of two goals to reach 50 in his rookie season, but he left empty-handed as DiPietro posted the New York Islanders’ first shutout of the season in a 5-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
Alexei Yashin scored two of New York’s three power-play goals in the first period and DiPietro did the rest by stopping 20 shots as the Islanders snapped their season-worst, six-game losing streak.
“It’s always nice to get a shutout, but I think the biggest thing was the win,” DiPietro said. “We got so sick of losing.”
Yashin stole the spotlight from his young Russian countrymate, who is trying to become the second NHL rookie to notch 50 goals and 100 points. Ovechkin has five games left to accomplish both feats, after he got to 99 points Friday in a home loss to Carolina.
Only Teemu Selanne, who had 76 goals and 132 points for Winnipeg in 1992-93, has reached both marks. The 20-year-old Ovechkin tied a season high by failing to score a goal in a sixth straight game.
“It’s been a lot of fun this season for me, but I’d like to win more,” Ovechkin said. “We must forget this game and move forward to the next game.”
Ovechkin was double-shifted early in the game and was shadowed by Islanders forward Wyatt Smith. He logged only 5:19 of ice time in the third period and just two shifts in the final 10 minutes.
DiPietro earned his sixth career shutout and New York’s first in the regular season since a 3-0 win over Washington on March 23, 2004.
“He’s been our best player all year and carried us through that stretch where he kept our hopes alive,” Islanders coach Brad Shaw said. “It was kind of the one thing he hadn’t done all year for us or we hadn’t done for him.
“He probably deserves three or four of these and we maybe haven’t played well enough in front of him to reap those rewards.”
Ovechkin recorded three shots and was on the ice for three goals against as his Caps rookie record, 11-game point streak ended. He saw 19:39 of action overall in a game that meant nothing in the standings for either also-ran team.
“He tries this way in practice, he tries this way in Game 1, and he’s trying this way now,” Capitals coach Glen Hanlon said. “He’s more concerned about winning games and winning the Stanley Cup.”
Yashin gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead at 3:10, 50 seconds into the power play. The New York captain stretched the advantage to 3-0 with 10.7 seconds left in the period, scoring his 28th goal on the Islanders’ 18th shot.
Trent Hunter also scored a man-advantage goal for the Islanders, who went 3-for-3 on the power play in the first period despite being up for just 3:26. Hunter scored with 1:01 left in the frame during a delayed penalty.
Blake added his 26th, off an assist from Yashin, to make it 4-0 with 4:24 remaining in the second period. Robert Nilsson netted New York’s season-high fourth power-play goal 1:11 into the third. Blake had three assists, and Yashin and Nilsson each had two.
DiPietro’s best stop came when he turned aside Brooks Laich with a quick left-pad save on an in-close drive midway through the first period.
“I’m proud of the guys,” DiPietro said. “We could’ve kind of tanked it after losing six and stuck our heads between our legs and said, ‘This one is over.’ But we continued to work hard.”
The Islanders registered 45 shots and beat the Capitals for the third time in four meetings to win the season series for the first time since 1996-97. Washington was on a 24-3-3 run against the Islanders before this season.
Kevin Colley, who retired this season after breaking his neck during a headfirst crash into the boards, received the Islanders’ Bob Nystrom Trophy— given to a player who exemplifies work ethic, leadership and dedication. The 27-year-old Colley was injured while attempting to check Washington’s Jamie Heward on Jan. 31. … Islanders LW Sean Bergenheim sustained a charley horse in the closing seconds on a knee-to-knee hit by Shaone Morrisonn, who was penalized.