Islanders forfeit 3-goal lead in demoralizing loss to Capitals

ELMONT — Of late, the New York Islanders have been finding a variety of ways to excel in the loss department – and Monday night’s performance at the UBS Arena may have been their most demoralizing result yet.

Dmitry Orlov was forgotten in overtime, opening up a chance for him to create the overtime winner for the Washington Capitals with a 4-3 win over an Islanders team (23-18-4) that held a lead midway through the second period had three goals.

“They were pissed off after we went three ahead,” said forward Hudson Fasching, who scored the Islanders’ third goal of the night. “They started to play a lot more physically. I think that changed the pace of the game.”

Sparked by that physical play that ultimately allowed them to stabilize, it was an Alex Ovechkin strike against Jean-Gabriel Pageau at 6:35 in the second half in a 3-0 game that gave the momentum and the blade turned down in the Capitals (26-16 -6).

The future Hall-of-Famer ran forward at the Islanders – borderline in terms of his legality – who temporarily knocked Pageau out of the game when his torso crunched against the glass before later returning in the second.

“I was very surprised [a penalty wasn’t assessed on Ovechkin]’ said Islanders head coach Lambert. “Charging, boarding, whatever it is, he’s made moves and we definitely should have backed the power play.”

“It looked like a hit on the head,” added Fasching. “You never like to see your teammates get hurt.”

Instead, Garnet Hathaway got the Capitals on the board just moments later when he slowly slipped a loose puck under Islanders goalie Ilya Sorokin at the 10-01 mark of the third.

Just 3:07 later, during the 4-on-4 action, Tom Wilson scored his first goal of the season when he slung a wrister over Sorokin’s shoulder to put the Capitals on one. After Washington went wide 11-5 in the first half, Washington beat the Islanders 14-6 in the second.

“The faceoff gave them some momentum,” Lambert said. “Four-on-four mistake that we can’t make and now suddenly they’re back in the game.”

TJ Oshie leveled the Capitals 5:54 in the third half when he diverted an Erik Gustafsson shot and eventually forced overtime.

“It sure is a frustrating loss,” said Anders Lee, Islanders captain. “We got off to a really good start…they had a good push to tie it…as we settled into our structure they could only pop a few.”

It wiped out a quick start for the Islanders and was the first time they gambled away a three-goal lead since 2021.

New York scored twice in the first half while showing an ability to overcome Washington’s physicality it tried to establish early on.

Sebastian Aho, after playing catch with Josh Bailey at the blue line, sneaked a wrister over the shoulder of Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper, which snapped off the underside of the bar and came into play in just 4:24.

Matt Martin doubled the Islanders’ lead at 13:19 when he deflected an Alex Romanov shot off the point and scored his fourth goal of the season.

It was the second straight game in which the Islanders scored two home goals in the first half after only scoring eight first-half goals in their first 20 games this season at the UBS Arena.

While Fasching extended the lead of the hosts to 3:0 (3:51) in the second third when he caught Kümper taking a nap with a low shot in front of his feet, the Capitals continued their momentum with their physical game.

The loss drops the Islanders four points behind fourth-placed Capitals in the Metropolitan Division as their inconsistent play makes it all the more difficult to keep up with the playoff pack.

“We need to regroup here,” Lee said. “We have a big week ahead of us … but this one will sting.”

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