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Islanders blow 3-goal lead in demoralizing loss to Capitals

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Islanders Capitals
Washington Capitals’ Sonny Milano (15) shoots as New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (30) protects his net during the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, Jan. 16, 2023, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

ELMONT — As of late, the New York Islanders are finding different ways to outclass themselves in the loss department — and Monday night at UBS Arena might have been their most demoralizing outcome, yet.

Dmitry Orlov was forgotten in overtime, opening a chance for him to pop the overtime winner for the Washington Capitals in a 4-3 victory over an Islanders team (23-18-4) that possessed a three-goal lead midway through the second period. 

“They were pissed off after we went up three,” forward Hudson Fasching, who scored the Islanders’ third goal of the night, said. “They started playing a lot more physical. I think that changed the pace of the game.”

Sparked by that physical play that ultimately allowed them to stabilize, it was an Alex Ovechkin hit on Jean-Gabriel Pageau 6:35 into the second period in a 3-0 game that turned the momentum and tide in the Capitals’ (26-16-6) favor.

The future Hall-of-Famer took a run at the Islanders forward — which was borderline in terms of its legality — that temporarily knocked Pageau out of the game as his upper body crunched into the glass before he returned later in the second.

“I was very surprised [a penalty wasn’t assessed on Ovechkin],” Islanders head coach Lambert said. “Charging, boarding, whatever it might be, he took steps and we definitely should have been ont he power play.”

“It kind of looked like a hit to the head,” Fasching added. “You never like to see when your teammates get hurt.”

Instead, just moments later, Garnet Hathaway got the Capitals on the board when he slid a loose puck slowly under Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin at the 10:01 mark of the period. 

Just 3:07 later during 4-on-4 action, Tom Wilson tallied his first goal of the season when he roofed a wrister over Sorokin’s shoulder to pull the Capitals within one. After getting outshot 11-5 in the first period, Washington outshot the Islanders 14-6 in the second.

“Face-off goal gave them some momentum,” Lambert said. “Mistake on the four-on-four which we can’t make and now all of a sudden they’re back in the game.”

TJ Oshie netted the Capitals’ equalizer 5:54 into the third period when he redirected an Erik Gustafsson shot through, ultimately forcing overtime.

“It’s a frustrating loss for sure,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said. “We had a really good start… they had a good push to tie it up… when we settled into our structure, they were just able to pop a couple.”

It erased a fast Islanders start, proving to be the first time since 2021 that they blew a three-goal lead.

New York potted two goals in the first period while showing an ability to overcome Washington’s physicality that it tried to establish early on. 

Sebastian Aho after playing catch with Josh Bailey at the blue line snuck a wrister over the shoulder of Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper that nicked off the bottom of the crossbar and in just 4:24 into the game.

Matt Martin doubled the Islanders’ lead at the 13:19 mark when he deflected a shot from the point by Alex Romanov home for his fourth goal of the season. 

It was the second straight game the Islanders scored two first-period goals at home after scoring just eight first-period tallies over their first 20 games at UBS Arena this season.

While Fasching extended the hosts’ lead to 3-0 3:51 into the second period when he caught Kuemper napping with a low shot at his feet, the Capitals continued clawing at momentum with its physical play.

The loss sinks the Islanders four points back of the fourth-place Capitals in the Metropolitan Division as their inconsistent play is making it all th more difficult to keep pace with the playoff pack.

“We have to regroup here,” Lee said. “We have a big week in front of us… but this one is going to sting.”

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