Goals by Doug Jarvis, Alan Haworth and Bob Gould in the last five minutes of the second period carried the Washington Capitals to a 5-3 NHL victory over the New York Islanders last night as a Capital Centre crowd of 16,722 watched the teams' first meeting since last season's Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Capitals moved above .500 for the first time at 5-4-2 and take a four-game unbeaten streak into tonight's 7:05 rematch at Nassau Coliseum (WDCA-TV-20).
The goaltenders, Al Jensen of Washington and Kelly Hrudey of the Islanders, put on a clinic for 35 minutes, until Jarvis ended a 1-1 tie with his first point of the season.
Jarvis drove for the net, took a backhand pass from Lou Franceschetti on the right wing and deflected the puck past Hrudey an instant before being flattened by defenseman Ken Morrow.
It was the first goal of the season by any of the three members of the checking-first fourth line of Jarvis, Franceschetti and Gary Sampson.
"It's a real bonus when you can get a few goals to help the team out," said Jarvis, who was playing his 811th consecutive game. "You like to be solid as a line, not giving up much, and we have been for the most part. But we create chances by forechecking and we ought to take advantage of some of them."
Thirty-five seconds after Jarvis scored, Washington's Scott Stevens was sent off for slashing. But the Capitals' penalty killing, superb all night, shut down the Islanders, and at the second Stevens returned, Haworth improved the lead to 3-1.
Sampson won a faceoff from Bryan Trottier in the New York end and drew the puck back to Haworth. His 45-foot shot struck Hrudey on the left arm and popped in the air. The goalie turned in time to see it drop across the goal line.
"You know, there were just a few seconds left on the penalty or I wouldn't have been out there," said Haworth, who normally does not kill penalties. It is a particularly remarkable feat for Haworth to score five goals in the last four games, since he has a sore left wrist.
"That goal gave the team a lift and it gave me a lift, too," said Sampson, who assisted Jarvis' goal besides Haworth's for his first two points this season. "I've been taking faceoffs because Howie (Haworth) has trouble with his bad hand. Trottier is tough to go against and the one thing you want to make sure of is that he doesn't block you."
That score, short-handed for all purposes except NHL technicalities, was enough to depress the visitors. Gould's score completed the job, because it came with only two seconds left in the period. The Islanders seemed to be awaiting the buzzer when Gould broke down the middle and, after Hrudey blocked his shot, put in the rebound.
"You try never to get scored against in the first minute or the last minute of a period, because it means so much psychologically," Gould said. "When it's 3-1, you're not out of the game, but when you look up at the scoreboard and see 4-1, it makes quite a difference."
Bob Carpenter scored Washington's second power-play goal of the game -- Dave Christian had the first -- early in the third period for a 5-1 lead. Hrudey was upset by that one, because he was distracted by a couple of slashes on the arm and pads by Greg Adams.
This was Hrudey's first visit to Capital Centre since the second game of the playoffs in April, when Adams bumped him in the second overtime and permitted Mike Gartner to score the winner.
The Islanders halved the gap on third-period goals by Duane Sutter and Mike Bossy, which might better have been saved for tonight.
New York, vainly trying to present Coach Al Arbour with a victory on his 53rd birthday, scored first, as rookie Neal Coulter put his first NHL shot in the net on a setup by Dale Henry at the finish of a three-on-two. Coulter and Henry were summoned from Springfield of the American Hockey League yesterday to fill roster gaps created by illness and injuries to seven New York regular players.
Stevens and Peter Andersson turned in strong defensive efforts as the Capitals played without defensemen Rod Langway and Larry Murphy. Washington still has not lost in five games without Langway in the lineup.
Coach Bryan Murray was pleased by the play of his special teams, as well as the offensive contributions of the fourth line.
"Any time your power play handles the puck well and attacks the other team, it gives the rest of the guys a boost," Murray said. "Our penalty killing has been good and they had trouble getting out of their own end. As a result, they didn't get many chances on the power play."