None of that mattered Sunday against the New York Islanders.
Alexander Semin scored the lone goal in a shootout, Olie Kolzig had 31 saves, and Washington snapped a three-game skid with a 2-1 victory.
Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 33 goals, was held scoreless on just two shots – none through the first two periods. He also misfired in the shootout.
Ovechkin has at least a point in 43 of the Capitals’ 54 games. He failed to get one Saturday in a 2-0 loss to Pittsburgh, and this marked the first time this season he didn’t register a point in consecutive games.
But the Capitals got two points in the standings, and that’s all that mattered to the second-year star, especially since Washington had won only two of 10 games.
“We will take these points. I’m happy we win,” Ovechkin said. “We lose eight in 10 and we forget what it feels like winning. This game was important to us.”
Kolzig was flawless in the shootout, stopping Miroslav Satan, Viktor Kozlov and Jason Blake. Washington was winless in five shootouts before Sunday.
“We finally got one,” Kolzig said. “Hopefully it’s a sign for us.”
Mike Sillinger scored the lone goal for the Islanders, and Rick DiPietro stopped 30 shots. Each of the Islanders’ last three defeats have come after they played to a tie in regulation.
“It’s tough when you lose that extra point,” coach Ted Nolan said. “The shootout is more of a skills competition. Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t.”
New York took no consolation in keeping Ovechkin entirely in check.
“He’s probably one of the best players in the league,” said defenceman Brendan Witt, a former Capitals player. “You have to take away his time and space because he’s got all the tools.”
In the shootout, Semin went first. He went straight at DiPietro, deked right and stuffed a backhander into the net. Kolzig did the rest.
“Olie played the last two games unbelievably and we haven’t given him much support. But he came through in the shootout,” said Matt Pettinger, who scored the Capitals’ lone regulation goal.
Washington went 0-for-4 on the power play and yielded a short-handed goal to Mike Sillinger. New York is 14-for-14 on the penalty kill over the last three games.
DiPietro hit the ice hard after being upended in the net by a sliding Ovechkin with 12:09 left in regulation, but remained in goal to the finish.
Minutes later, Ovechkin was called for interference. Shortly after he emerged from the penalty box he recorded his first shot, with 9:17 to go, but DiPietro cast it aside easily.
Down 1-0, the Islanders pulled even at 27 seconds of the middle period. With Witt in the penalty box, Trent Hunter took a shot from the left circle that glanced off Kolzig to Sillinger, who tapped in the rebound from right of the crease.
New York outshot Washington 13-5 in the period, in part because the Capitals were forced to kill three penalties. Bottled up in its own end for much of the time, Washington managed only one shot over the period’s initial 14 minutes.
Kolzig kept the Capitals in the game with several fine saves, including one late in the period when he sprawled on his back to block a shot by Blake.
Frustrated offensively in Pittsburgh one day earlier, Washington wasted little time finding the back of the net against DiPietro. With just under three minutes elapsed, Pettinger slammed home the rebound of a wraparound shot by Richard Zednik.
That, however, would be the Capitals’ lone goal.
Notes: The Capitals recalled G Frederic Cassivi from AHL Hershey and assigned G Daren Machesney to the same minor league club. … Islanders C Alexei Yashin missed a third straight game with tendinitis in his right knee. … It was the first of a season-high four successive home games for the Capitals.