Justin Schultz scored the go-ahead goal with 26.4 seconds left, Vitek Vanecek made 32 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the New York Islanders 3-2 on Tuesday night despite another injury to a key player.
Schultz's goal allowed the Capitals to narrowly avoid a fifth consecutive overtime game, which has never happened in franchise history.
Washington lost center Lars Eller midway through the third period when he was hit into the glass from behind by Leo Komarov, who was assessed a major penalty for boarding. Capitals winger Tom Wilson was already out of the lineup for a second consecutive game with a lower-body injury, and Washington played its third of at least four games without captain Alex Ovechkin, center Evgeny Kuznetsov, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Ilya Samsonov because of COVID-19 protocols.
Capitals defenseman John Carlson had a power-play goal playing in Ovechkin's spot, and Daniel Sprong scored his first with Washington. Schultz got the primary assist on Carlson's goal, and Vanecek was solid again in a fourth consecutive start in Samsonov's absence.
Noah Dobson and Mathew Barzal scored for the Islanders, who got 33 saves from leading NHL goalie Semyon Varlamov in his first loss of the season after starting 3-0.
It was New York's second consecutive defeat after being shut out Sunday by New Jersey.
BEAU CAN'T GO
The Islanders put winger Anthony Beauvillier on injured reserve retroactive to Sunday. He left that night with a lower-body injury and will miss at least the next three games.
NO COACHING HATRED
Islanders-Capitals was juicier on the coaching front when it was 2018 Stanley Cup winner Barry Trotz against former assistant and replacement Todd Reirden. Since Reirden was fired and replaced by Peter Laviolette, the only possible conflict would stem from Trotz being unhappy about how Washington's new coach kept his top power-play unit on the ice late in an 8-3 blowout of New York in December 2019 while with Nashville.
Nope. Trotz insists there are no hard feelings.
“This is part of the game that you go through,” he said. "I’d see Lavy down the hallway if they practiced here. It’d be fine. There’s no carryover.”
These teams face off again Thursday in their second of eight meetings this season.
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