UNIONDALE, NY— Posting a third-period lead at home is supposed to be a precursor for success.
But the Islanders once again allowed the opposition to build positive momentum after blowing a two-goal lead for a second straight home game. Unlike in the shootout win over Carolina, rookie John Tavares couldn’t bail the Isles out this time as Washington scored three unanswered goals to leave Nassau Coliseum with a 3-2 overtime victory Saturday night.
Defenseman Mike Green cut the Islanders’ lead to 2-1 with his slap shot
goal 6:02 into the third and assisted on Brooks Laich’s overtime winner as the Isles (1-4-4) wasted a third-period lead for the third home game this season.
“It’s not going to be easy for us and we have to understand that and just make sure we develop a killer instinct,” Islanders coach Scott Gordon said. “To me, that’s the separation between the teams that do have that: success in the third period, and we haven’t had that.”
Washington (6-2-2) was out-shot 16-8 in the final stanza yet scored the last two goals to force overtime before recording its fifth straight win over the Islanders. Keith Aucoin followed Green’s score by drilling a shot that caromed off Islanders forward Josh Bailey’s leg to tie it with 6:50 remaining.
Laich secured the win exactly one minute into overtime when he gained possession on defenseman Mark Streit in front of the crease to tip Green’s centering pass behind goalie Dwayne Roloson (21 saves) for his fourth goal.
“On the ice, they were showing a little fatigue on their faces,” Laich said. “They looked a little bit tired and we were pouring it on and we just wanted to keep going.”
Streit contributed one of his team’s 25 blocked shots in a defensive effort that held Alex Ovechkin to just two shots in 26:48. The blue liner said the wasted chances can hopefully provide lessons for an inexperienced Islanders unit.
“We have a young team and games like that, you have to learn,” Streit said.
“It’s not going a week or two. It’s way longer than that. We have to battle and improve our game and finally win games like that.”
Jose Theodore made 28 saves, including 15 in the third. The netminder made two highlight-worthy stops on Kyle Okposo to keep Islanders lead at 2-1 in the third. Theodore made the initial save on Okposo’s front-of-the-crease shot before
gloving the rebound after Okposo collected the rebound.
“I said ‘that’s the save that’s going to save us,’” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It was a bang-bang play. He’s played so well for us and yet we’ve let games slip away. So I was really happy that he was able to be in there for the win.”
The Islanders held a potent Washington offense scoreless in four power play chances and even opened the scoring on Radek Martinek’s shorthanded marker 12:14 in that helped the club pick up a point.
Gordon has talked about utilizing an aggressive fore-check to generate transition. The Islanders embodied that philosophy on Martinek’s tally.
Frans Nielsen collected the puck in the neutral zone and raced into the zone before backhanding a pass to Martinek, who rifled a between-the-circles slap shot past Theodore for the Islanders’ second shorthanded goal of the season.
Jeff Tambellini, who was one of three Islanders to score in the shootout win over Carolina, picked up first official goal this season after deflecting Blake Comeau’s shot in for a 2-0 lead 3:44 into the final period.
Tambellini gained possession in front of defenseman Shaone Morrison at the right post, deflecting a shot that skipped past Theodore’s glove-side.
But Green showed the skills that made him a Norris Trophy-finalist last season, blasting a shot from the top of the right circle that beat Roloson high stick-side to cut it to 2-1 before the Capitals completed the comeback.
“They came ready to play but we didn’t panic,” Theodore said. “It was a huge win.”
The Islanders registered a 70 percent success rate on faceoffs, winning 46 out of 66. Richard Park won a game-high 15 out of 21 chances, including offensive zone draws that Boudreau said made him nervous.
“I was just praying for no more faceoffs in our own zone,” Boudreau said. “Usually we’re fairly good at that. We got terribly outplayed in the faceoff circle tonight.”
Notes: Sean Bergenheim nearly picked up his season’s first goal when the forward tried to bank the puck off a prone Theodore’s pads midway through the opening period. The netminder extended his glove at the goal line as the Islanders crashed the right post. Bergenheim did pick up his first point in nine games this season when he assisted on the opening goal…The Islanders drew an announced crowd of 11,541 after setting a season-low of 9,122 in the previous home game against the Hurricanes…The Isles (32) were credited with 10 more hits than the Capitals.