WASHINGTON — A season that was going nowhere for the New York Islanders is suddenly looking less dire, thanks the team's first three-game winning streak.
Shane Prince, Brock Nelson and Jason Chimera produced three goals in less than 4 1/2 minutes of the third period Thursday, and Jaroslav Halak made 38 saves, helping the Islanders beat Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals 3-0 one night after a victory over Sidney Crosby and the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.
"If you look at all the bad bounces and late games that we kind of blew, we could have a great record right now. It's unfortunate. It's just how our season's went," said Prince, who broke a scoreless tie at the 16:45 mark of the final period after Casey Cizikas stole the puck from Capitals defenceman Dmitry Orlov.
"To be able to string three in a row together, especially the back-to-back against two of the best teams in the league," Prince continued, "it's huge for us and we've got to build off it and keep it going."
New York entered with the fewest points in the Eastern Conference, including just one victory in eight road games.
"Obviously, there's still things that need to be cleaned up," Halak said, "but I think we are heading in the right direction right now."
Not only did he not dress for the Islanders' 5-3 home win against the Penguins on Wednesday, he didn't even watch the third period, during which New York went from 3-0 ahead to tied, before pulling it out.
"I was trying to get a good sleep," Halak said.
Hey, whatever works.
He also joked that his best save Thursday came when Ovechkin put a shot off the post during a third-period power play — part of an 0-for-6 showing for Washington with an extra man. The Capitals' once-vaunted power play is 0 for 10 over the team's past two games, both losses.
"Whether they're getting blocked or going over the net or wide — sometimes, I think, when you don't have the results you're looking for, and you're used to having good success, which this group is, maybe you start trying to pick the corner a little bit too much rather than shooting for the second opportunity," Washington's Matt Niskanen said.
"You've got to shoot it better or you've got to be at the net better or something," he said, "because right now, we're not getting it done."
Ovechkin entered the final period with twice as many penalties called against him (two) as shots on goal (one) for the evening, and remained stuck on 199 career power-play goals.
At the other end, Orlov acknowledged, "I did two bad mistakes and it cost (us) the game."
After his blunder led to the game's opening goal, Orlov lost the puck in his own end, leading to Nelson's goal off a rebound of John Tavares' shot. Exactly a minute later, former Capitals winger Chimera finished the flurry with his second goal in two games after having only one in the season's first 21 games.
"We weren't getting results. ... We put ourselves behind an 8-ball," Chimera said. "But we saw some positive things."
NOTES: An apparent power-play goal by Washington's Justin Williams at the end of the first period was disallowed when a replay showed the puck was still crossing the goal line when the clock hit 0.0. ... Capitals 2014 first-round draft pick Jakub Vrana made his NHL debut, skating on the second line and nearly scoring on his very first shift. "Everything happened so quick," he said. ... It was Halak's first shutout of the season and 40th in the NHL. He led eighth-seeded Montreal to an upset of Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington in the 2010 playoffs, and briefly played for the Capitals in 2014. ... Capitals F T.J. Oshie missed his fifth consecutive game with an upper-body injury.
Islanders: Host the Red Wings on Sunday.
Capitals: Visit the Lightning on Saturday.
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