Nicklas Backstrom's wrist shot through a crowd 11:09 into overtime gave the Washington Capitals a 2-1 win over the Islanders at the Coliseum Tuesday night, sending the Caps and Isles back to Washington at 2-2 in the playoff series.
Backstrom circled to near the blue line and his high wrister beat Jaroslav Halak.
The teams headed to OT tied 1-1 for the second straight game, each with a glorious scoring chance during the Caps power play midway through the third. Alex Ovechkin found Marcus Johansson alone in front, but he only got enough on the deflection to send it into Halak's glove.
And Cal Clutterbuck, flying all night, raced in shorthanded and rang a shot off the crossbar behind Braden Holtby. The final minutes of the third were tightly played, neither side wanting to make the key mistake.
The Islanders had chances on the power play in the first half of the second period, but you could only call the power plays themselves chances. There were no good scoring opportunities to be found in the 7:44 stretch of the second when the Isles were up a man for six minutes of that time.
Lubo Visnovsky headed to the dressing room mid-game for the second time in as many contests, but there was no triumphant return a short time later. Tom Wilson, the Caps' enforcer, had just exited the penalty box for a kneeing minor on Josh Bailey when he took a running start and simply bowled over Visnovsky, the 6-foot-4 Wilson pinning the 5-10 Visnovsky to the ice.
The Islanders defenseman stayed on his knees for a bit, then skated off to the dressing room with a cut on his face 5:54 into the second. He did not return.
The Islanders had a chance to break the deadlock on that advantage and one just 50 seconds after that power play expired -- Mike Green threw the puck over the glass from his own zone as Clutterbuck bore down on him -- but the power-play units couldn't get off a confident shot.
There were fumbled pucks, uncoordinated zone entries and an overall lack of cohesion through the three power plays, though the Islanders did manage to keep Alex Ovechkin off the ice for a nice long stretch.
Both teams had a couple of chances at even strength during a wild 90 seconds inside of six minutes to go in the second. Halak, whose puck handling skills had the Coliseum crowd palpably and audibly on edge, tried to start a rush with a high clear that wasn't high enough -- Jason Chimera leaped to grab it, but his feed in front went wanting.
At the other end, Casey Cizikas generated a couple of good scoring chances that Holtby turned aside.
Holtby was 12.6 seconds from a perfect first period when the Islanders struck to tie the game. Brooks Orpik had just gone off to the Caps dressing room when an errant skate cut his cheek; off the next faceoff, Nick Leddy sent Clutterbuck in as the Caps hurried a change.
Holtby denied Clutterbuck's try, but Cizikas flew in to deposit the rebound for his first of this postseason and third career playoff goal in 10 postseason games (Cizikas has 21 goals in 210 regular-season games).
That equalizer helped ease the sting of the Caps scoring the first goal for the first time in the series. Ovechkin took the first minor of the game for a trip on fellow Russian Nikolay Kulemin, but that Islanders power play was as poor as the three that followed.
And just 45 seconds after exiting the box, Ovechkin reached behind him to neatly deflect John Carlson's wrist shot past Halak at 13:21 for the opening goal, Ovechkin's second of the series.
Wilson's huge hit on Visnovsky with the puck several feet away was costly to the Islanders. Visnovsky stayed on his knees for a few moments, then skated off under his own power with a cut on his face.