UNIONDALE, N.Y., DEC. 1 -- Bob Joyce and Alfie Turcotte spent most of this season in Baltimore, hoping they could generate enough offense for the Skipjacks to generate a call from the Washington Capitals.

Joyce's phone rang two weeks ago, Turcotte's Friday night. Tonight the Capitals were glad they called.

Joyce re-routed Turcotte's pass with 1:53 left in the third period to break a 1-1 tie and power the Capitals to a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders in front of 12,761 at Nassau Coliseum. John Druce registered an empty-net goal with 33 seconds left to complete the scoring.

"A big relief," said Joyce, who had not scored a goal in the six previous games since his recall. "I had a lot of chances that hadn't gone in. Here I just re-directed it and it goes in. Alfie made a great play."

Joyce and Turcotte were the heroes for the night. But Steve Maltais, another recall from Baltimore, made an important play that won't show up in the statistics to set up the team's first goal. And Don Beaupre played his second straight strong game in goal, keeping the Capitals within sight of the Islanders.

"We had our opportunities to get that second goal," Islanders Coach Al Arbour said. "We paid the price for not getting it."

The Capitals have not been a come-from-behind team this season, sporting an 0-10 mark when trailing at the start of the third period. But after the Islanders took a 1-0 lead on Randy Wood's first-period goal, the Capitals scored three straight. What made it nerve-wracking for Washington was that the first, by Dale Hunter, didn't come until 15 minutes were left in the game.

"When the puck doesn't go in for this team, it tends to last for a few games," Beaupre said. "I was hoping this wasn't one of those times."

Beaupre's backup tonight was Olie Kolzig, who was in goal for the Skipjacks Friday night. Mike Liut was not in uniform Friday night against Montreal because of a strained groin incurred in Wednesday's game in New York. Maltais and Turcotte were called up because they have been playing very well for the first-place Skipjacks. Maltais, who had two goals and five assists in Friday's victory over Utica, was leading the AHL in scoring. Turcotte was leading the Skipjacks in assists. Capitals Coach Terry Murray said they were going to be in the lineup even if center Mike Ridley hadn't come down with a bit of the flu.

"We're stuck at .500 and we have to give other people in the organization a look," said Murray, whose team is 15-14. But that doesn't mean Turcotte or Maltais is staying.

On the surface, it seems a bit harsh, but all three are going back to Baltimore for a game Sunday (the Capitals are off) and aren't sure they will be back Monday.

"It's a possibility," Murray said. General Manager David Poile "and I will talk."

Said Maltais: "All you can do is play hard. If you start thinking about what they are going to do, you won't do what you should do."

Maltais set up Druce early in the first period, but his shot off the post typified the team's play in the first period. Two power plays were wasted by the unit that started the day ranked first in the NHL.

The penalty-killing unit -- ranked third, but without Ridley and Dave Tippett -- was scored upon. Wood took Derek King's pass and scored with 11:01 left in the first period. But that was the only one that got past Beaupre, who made several excellent stops in raising his record to 3-4 and lowering his goals-against average to 1.96.

On the tying goal, Druce shot the puck into the corner. Pat LaFontaine went to collect it, but Maltais lifted his stick. The puck went past them to Hunter, who beat goalie Jeff Hackett with what Maltais sarcastically called a "big blast" with 15:04 left in the third period.

On the game-winner, Turcotte carried into the Islanders' zone along the right boards. He put the brakes on and turned to pass with his forehand. He put it right on the stick of Joyce, who did nothing more complicated than hold his stick at the right spot, at the right angle.

"I never saw it," Hackett said.

"It's just making things happen," Turcotte said. "I had a couple good scoring opportunities in the first two period, and didn't shoot the puck well. The chances were there and we finally got one."