UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Islanders coach Jack Capuano promised personnel changes to his team that had lost six games in a row and hadn’t scored a goal in over four periods.
The line shuffling turned into an immediate success.
P.A. Parenteau’s goal with 1:46 remaining broke a tie and led New York to a 5-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.
“It was a relief for the guys,” Capuano said. “We believe in one another. It was a good win. Everybody’s giving more.”
After the Islanders (4-5-2) scored only 18 goals in their first 10 games this season, they busted out against Washington. Frans Nielsen, Brian Rolston, Matt Martin and John Tavares also scored for New York, which snapped a six-game losing streak (0-4-2). Tavares made it 5-3 with an empty-net goal
Rick DiPietro made 24 saves for his first win of the season.
“Line changes worked out,” Parenteau said. “We were struggling to find goals and we found them. We were doing the little things and got rewarded.”
Joel Ward, Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich had goals for the Capitals, who got 30 saves from Tomas Vokoun.
Washington led 2-0 after the first period. Ward’s rebound goal 5:24 in gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead. Ward corralled a loose puck in the slot before whipping a shot over DiPietro’s stick.
Ovechkin fired a slap shot, with the teams skating 4-on-4, to make it 2-0 with 1:19 left in the first. Ovechkin wheeled inside the blue line and hammered an off-the-boards pass from Nicklas Backstrom over DiPietro.
“We started off well,” Ward said.
But it didn’t last.
Ovechkin’s goal prompted many frustrated fans in the crowd of 14,812 to chant for Islanders backup goalie Al Montoya.
DiPietro stayed in the game, and Washington mustered little else. The Capitals admitted that they stopped playing their system and became, in coach Bruce Boudreau’s words, “too individualistic.”
“Second period, we started beating ourselves, throwing pucks through the middle, not getting it deep,” irritated defenceman Karl Alzner said. “(We) do these things to ourselves.”
New York entered with the fewest goals scored in the NHL. Following Thursday’s 3-0 home loss to Winnipeg, Capuano announced he would make line changes to his team that hadn’t scored since 11:28 of the second period last Saturday against San Jose.
The Islanders benefited from the changes and outshot Washington 35-28. The best of New York’s lines was the grouping of Rolston, Nielsen and Parenteau—which produced three goals and nine shots.
“We played well the whole time,” Rolston said. “Frans and P.A. were awesome.”
Nielsen’s soft backhander past Vokoun at 1:41 into the second ended the Islanders’ drought. Rolston tied it 2-2 with 3:05 left in the period with his first goal with the Islanders and No. 336 of his NHL career.
New York took a 3-2 lead 6:28 into the third when Martin backhanded a rebound under Vokoun. The goal was Martin’s second of the season and seventh in 84 career NHL games.
“You can’t win when your goalie gives up three bad goals,” Vokoun said. “I felt pretty good at the start. The first one I relaxed a little too much. The second one, he hit in the exact spot between the legs and it goes through.
“The fourth one, I should have covered the puck or put a rebound in the corner. I let the team down.”
New York’s advantage lasted only 2:44 because Laich tied it 3-3 with a power-play goal off a wrist shot from the left circle. That set the stage for Parenteau’s game-winner and Tavares’ empty-netter 44 seconds later.
“We handled adversity,” Tavares said. “We had a lot of good zone time.”
NOTES: On Military Appreciation Night at the Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders wore camouflage warmup sweaters. … Several hundred fans had to relocate from sections 305 and 306 before the start of the second period due to a leaky roof. … Washington dropped to 9-3 this season.