How it happened: Alex Ovechkin faked shot and beat Evgeni Nabokov with a backhander for the only goal of the shootout. Caps goalie Braden Holtby stopped 35 of 36 shots through 65 minutes and was perfect in the shootout, stopping Frans Nielsen, Brad Boyes and John Tavares.
What it means: Combined with the Winnipeg Jets’ 4-1 loss in Montreal, the Caps moved into the Southeast Division lead and the third seed in the Eastern Conference standings. The Caps also have a game in hand on the Jets, who have lost eight of their last 11 games while the Caps have gone 6-1-1 in their last eight.
How they scored: Mike Green gave the Caps a 1-0 lead with 13 seconds remaining in the first period when Marcus Johansson poke-checked the puck to him at the top of the right circle. Green wound up and blasted a shot through Evgeni Nabokov, who appeared to lose his balance as he prepared to make the stop. The goal was Green’s fifth in four games, matching his longest goal streak since a four-game run from Oct. 30 through Nov. 7, 2010. It stayed that way until the Isles tied it with 4:59 left in regulation when Kyle Okposo blasted a feed from Frans Nielsen past Braden Holtby, spoiling his bid for his fifth shutout of the season. Joel Ward failed to clear a bouncing puck just before the goal, allowing the Islanders to keep the puck in the zone and get the Caps scrambling.
Where’s Laich: Brooks Laich played just under 14 minutes and played sparingly in the second half of the game after getting a stick in the midsection. Caps coach Adam Oates said Laich was “achey all over” and thought it was a good decision to rest him with back-to-back games this weekend. Laich said it was a coach’s decision.
Save of the game: Caps goaltender Braden Holtby was lightning quick throughout the game. His biggest save came with about 3 minutes remaining in the second period when he stayed with Frans Nielsen long enough to disrupt his goal-crease deke, then scrambled back to his cage to get his right pad on a shot by Michael Grabner. Earlier in the period Holtby moved right to left to stop a doorstep shot by former Capital Keith Aucoin, generating chants of “Holt-Bee!”
Using Erat: Martin Erat took regular shifts on a line with center Mathieu Perreault and right wing Joel Ward and did a nice job of protecting the puck with his body while setting up both of his linemates for chances. Erat also saw time on the Caps’ second power play unit with Perreault, Ward, John Carlson and Alex Ovechkin. He set up an Ovechkin scoring chance with a nice cross-ice pass.
What’s next: The Caps will practice at Kettler on Friday, then catch a flight to Fort Lauderdale, where they’ll face the Florida Panthers in Sunrise on Saturday night The Caps return home Sunday for a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.