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Kuznetsov's SO goal lifts Capitals over Isles 4-3

  • Article by: ALLAN KREDA
  • Associated Press
  • April 5, 2014 - 7:46 PM

UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in regulation and had the only goal in the shootout to lift the Capitals to a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday and keep Washington's playoff hopes alive.

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby stopped all three Islander attempts in the shootout and Washington snapped a five-game losing streak and moved within two points of Columbus for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Capitals are 9-2-0 in last 11 games at Nassau Coliseum.

Both teams had chances in overtime. Holtby denied Brock Nelson point-blank at 3:35 and Evgeni Nabokov stopped Alexander Ovechkin in the closing seconds of the five-minute extra session.

John Persson and Frans Nielsen had given the Islanders a 3-1 lead midway through the second period, but the Capitals fought back to tie it 3-3 heading into the third period. Persson, a 21-year-old left wing, was playing in his fifth NHL game after being recalled from AHL Bridgeport on March 27.

Persson's goal at 4:16 of the second was assisted by defensemen Travis Hamonic and Calvin de Haan.

The Islanders came out swarming, playing the same hard-edged game they've exhibited in recent weeks with a rookie-laden lineup. Despite playing without its top two forwards, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, New York came in with a three-game winning streak and a 7-2-1 mark in its last 10.

But once again, the Islanders allowed a two-goal lead to slip away as they fell to 31-15-11.

Cal Clutterbuck opened the scoring at 12:55 of the first, firing his 12th of the season past Holtby with assists from Casey Cizikas and Michael Grabner, who returned after missing nine games with concussion symptoms.

The Islanders kept the pressure on the Capitals throughout the first, outshooting the visitors 17-8.

Washington tied the game at 2:36 of the second when Kuznetsov, the Russian rookie, scored his third of the season.

Nielsen put New York ahead 3-1 with a power-play goal at 9:55 of the second, one-timing a slick pass from Josh Bailey past Holtby from the top of the right circle. Matt Donovan also assisted on Nielsen's career-best 24th of the season.

But Nicklas Backstrom cut the lead to 3-2 with his 15th at 12:45 of the second before Joel Ward tied it was his 23rd at 15:01 after a giveaway in front by Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey, the only Islander to appear in every game this season.

The Capitals (35-30-13) have been struggling to stay in the playoff race. They lost 2-1 to the Devils in New Jersey on Friday. Washington is 2-3-3 in its last seven games.

They are two points behind Columbus for the last Eastern Conference playoff spot with four games remaining. The Islanders visit the Blue Jackets on Sunday.

The Islanders have dressed at least nine rookies in their last seven games and were 5-0-1 coming into Saturday's game.

Persson made his NHL debut in Tampa Bay last Thursday. He joined Kevin Czuczman, Mike Halmo, Ryan Strome and Johan Sundstrom as Islanders making their NHL debuts this season.

NOTES: Ovechkin needs one goal for 50 this season. He would be the 11th player in league history to score 50 goals or more five times. . The Islanders are 25-10-3 when they score at least three goals and are 6-25-7 when they do not.

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