Caps close successful decade against Islanders

The Washington Capitals and the visiting New York Islanders will close out 2019 with a Tuesday matinee.

Washington, dealing with injury and illness issues, suffered a 6-4 loss at Carolina on Saturday in the second game of a back-to-back set. Michal Kempny, who sat out Friday's win over Columbus due to illness, also missed Saturday's game for the same reason.

Tom Wilson made it halfway through warmups and skated off on Saturday, not being able to play due to a lower-body injury. Also, after the first period, recently recalled defenseman Christian Djoos left due to an upper-body ailment and did not return.

While Wilson and Kempny returned to practice Monday morning, Djoos and forward TJ Oshie (illness) sat out.

"I'm proud of the guys for battling through on a back-to-back," Washington coach Todd Reirden said on "It's always tough to lose to this team here, but there were opportunities."

Alex Ovechkin scored a power-play goal in the loss, the 256th extra-man goal of his career. He passed Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne to move into third place on the NHL's all-time list for power-play goals. The record is 274, held by Dave Andreychuk.

Defenseman John Carlson continued his strong season on offense with two assists. He is the first defenseman to get 50 points in his team's first 40 games since Paul Coffey did it in the 1994-95 season for Detroit. Mike Green held the previous franchise mark with 50 points in 43 games, according to the team's website.

The Capitals will close the calendar year as the winningest team of the decade, posting 465 victories so far, with Ovechkin scoring the most goals (437) and Nicklas Backstrom having the most assists (511).

New York ended an 0-2-1 winless streak with a 3-1 victory in Minnesota on Sunday. The Islanders scored three times in the third period to pull out the win.

Ryan Pulock, Matt Martin and Tom Kuhnhackl each scored as the Islanders got back to the type of defensive hockey they played earlier this season -- and last year -- under coach Barry Trotz.

New York had given up 24 goals in its five previous games before shutting down the Wild and coming up with a much-needed win.

"The last couple of weeks when things weren't going our way we started to get away from what we do best," Martin said on the team's website.

"(We'd) get away from our structure and haven't been playing as well defensively because we're trying to chase offense. ... (In this game), we were trailing most of the game and still stuck with solid defensive hockey. We felt good about our game through two and felt like if we stuck with it, something would give and thankfully it did."

Trotz returns to face the team he guided to a Stanley Cup title in 2018. He left after that season when the two sides apparently could not agree on a contract.

Still, the Capitals presented him with his Stanley Cup ring in their dressing room when they went to New York in November 2018.

"The incredible things that we did together ... that will last a lifetime," Trotz told his former team that night. "I'll die a happy man."

--Field Level Media