Capitals’ leaders send message, sparking rally past Islanders

During the second intermission of Tuesday’s 5-4 shootout win on Long Island, veterans Matt Hendricks and Mike Knuble acknowledged that more than one leader stood up to deliver a strong message to everyone in the Capitals’ dressing room.

“We needed to kind of pull our head out of somewhere dark, to say the least,” Hendricks said. “The coaches said a little bit of something. But I think it was the leaders in this room that spoke up.”

Hendricks didn’t specify who spoke up or what exactly was said. But this much was obvious: The message got through.

The Capitals carried the play in the third period and overtime, as they outshot the Islanders 13-9 and recorded 12 hits after notching 11 in the first 40 minutes.

And, of course, there were also the clutch goals by Dmitry Orlov and Alex Ovechkin.

“It’s different guys at different times,” Knuble said of the leaders who spoke up. “We knew we were in the game. We knew [the Islanders’ two-goal lead] wasn’t going to be enough.”

Dale Hunter said he wasn’t in the room. But the coach added that he’s glad the players took things into their own hands this time. In Thursday’s 3-2 overtime win over Tampa, it was Hunter who delivered the fiery speech during the second intermission.

“We’ve got good leaders on this team and they’ve been speaking and spoke up that we needed the two points, I imagine that,” he said. “I don’t know what's said, but it worked.”

A few other notes and quotes from Tuesday night:

●The Islanders were not whistled for a penalty. It marked the second time in six games that a Capitals’ opponent wasn’t assessed a single infraction.

“I don’t know if they played a saintly game or something,” Knuble said. “I don’t know.”

●Knuble’s second-period goal was his first since Dec. 5, a frustrating span of 35 games in which he’s dressed.

“I had a great chance in Boston to score and a decent chance against Toronto,” he said. “You just know that they’re not going to be that many in number. . . . You just go to the net and things happen sometimes.”

●Keith Aucoin has played in 90 NHL games, but tonight was his first three-point performance. Now, the 33-year-old center has four assists and a goal in the past five games.

“It’s a good feeling, and it’s a huge win for us,” Aucoin said.

●The Capitals will be off tomorrow, with the exception of the scratches.

More on Capitals vs. Islanders:

Caps rally from three down for shootout win

Summary: Capitals 5, Islanders 4

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