The Washington Capitals entered Thursday's game with the New York Islanders with some recent scoring woes in tow. After their 60-minute effort, the Caps will leave New York with much less baggage.
Behind goals by Jason Chimera and Nicklas Backstrom and sound goaltending from Braden Holtby, the Caps defeated the Islanders 2-1 in an important game for morale.
The Capitals entered the game with only 28 first period goals, last in the NHL, but reversed their misfortune within the first five minutes. Chimera, in his new spot on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Backstrom, opened the scoring at 3:41. Backstrom entered the zone and sent a drop pass to a trailing Ovechkin. Ovechkin skated towards the net and sent a slap pass to Chimera, who was rushing to the crease. Chimera tipped the puck past Rick DiPietro for his seventh goal of the season and second in three games. It was only the Capitals' second first period goal in 2011.
Backstrom scored his first goal since December 1 on a play that he set up perfectly. Backstrom entered the zone and centered to Ovechkin, who powered his way into the slot. Ovechkin put a wrist shot on DiPietro that the goaltender had a hard time corralling. Backstrom crashed the net and picked up the scraps for his 12th goal of the season at 3:38 of the second period to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead.
A breakaway goal from Michael Grabner just two minutes after Backstrom's tally made the score 2-1, but Holtby would not let in another shot for the rest of the game. Holtby stopped 24 shots in his fifth career start to earn the victory.
Washington had some penalty troubles; they found themselves shorthanded six times, but killed off all six penalties in large part to Holtby's composure in goal.
With 26 wins on their resume, the Capitals head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs Saturday and will look to win back-to-back games for the first time in 2011