Capitals vs. Islanders: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby lead Washington's 2-1 win

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, January 21, 2011; 12:01 AM

UNIONDALE, N.Y. - For just the second time in nine games since the new year, the Washington Capitals scored first in a contest. Their star players looked like star players. They parlayed that momentum and confidence into a solid win on Thursday night.

Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom recorded multiple-point games in the same outing for the first time since Nov. 26 and rookie goaltender Braden Holtby made 24 saves for his third NHL win to boost Washington over the New York Islanders, 2-1, at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

The victory didn't include offensive glitz and firepower.

It did, however, display something arguably more important for these Capitals - a balance between capitalizing on scoring chances and solid defensive play to prevent an opponent from completing a comeback.

Washington killed six penalties against the Islanders, including four in the second and third periods while protecting a one-goal lead.

"I thought it was a great shutdown third period," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "I was really, really excited about the way we held the fort, got the 2-0 lead and even though they scored one goal after that, we didn't give a lot up and when we did Holtby made a great save or two."

Throughout the season Boudreau has tinkered with line combinations, searching for the right mix among the forwards to balance offense and defense and perhaps spark some of Washington's stars out of their scoring slumps.

From the drop of the puck, the Capitals exuded confidence in their strides and rushes up ice. The latest incarnation of the top line was particularly effective with speedy veteran winger Jason Chimera skating alongside Ovechkin and Backstrom.

On their second shift against the Islanders, each member of the trio notched a point as the Capitals took a 1-0 lead with 3 minutes 41 seconds gone in the contest.

Backstrom carried the puck up ice and drop-passed to Ovechkin, who shot toward the net where Chimera had blazed a path and tipped it past Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro.

New York's netminder, who just returned from missing a game because of the flu, finished with 22 saves.

The ability to establish an early lead was a welcome change from recent games.

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