- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Washington Capitals were already shorthanded before the game started last night, and then the New York Islanders’ power play added insult to injury.

The Islanders scored on three of their first five extra-man opportunities en route to a 6-2 thrashing of a depleted Caps squad in front of 16,453 at Verizon Center. While the resurgent Islanders kept pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race with their fifth win in six games, the Caps lost their fourth straight and ninth in 10 outings.

“I thought five-on-five it was maybe a slight edge [for New York], maybe even,” Caps defenseman Steve Eminger said. “But on special teams they took advantage. A team that good with that much skill, you can’t put them on the power play that many times.”

Washington was without three regulars up front (Chris Clark, Matt Pettinger and Boyd Gordon) and dressed only 11 forwards. That number was reduced to 10 when Kris Beech took a shot off of his knee with a little more than three minutes left in the first and then staggered to the bench.

Beech, who was centering a line with Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, took the ice for one shift early in the second 20 minutes, but he cut it short after one trip down the ice and limped straight to the locker room.

“[Beech’s injury] made it tougher,” Hanlon said. “When you don’t have continuity then everyone is trying to figure out who they are playing with.”

After spotting the Islanders a 5-0 lead, the Caps put together a third-period push. Defenseman Brian Pothier and center Brian Sutherby scored goals 24 seconds apart and Semin had a great chance moments later to make it 5-3, but his shot missed the net.

By that point the Islanders’ power play already had done enough damage.

The Islanders took a 2-0 lead after one period with a pair of power play markers. Mike Sillinger netted his 22nd of the season 10:43 into the first with a shot from just above the left faceoff circle that squirted through Caps goalie Brent Johnson’s legs. New addition Ryan Smyth provided the traffic in net but was not credited with touching the puck on its way through.

“It is a great teaching tool for us — that man in front of the net,” Hanlon said. “In the last three or four years [Smyth] is third in the league in power play goals and it is obvious to see why. I think it is a good lesson for some of our younger players.”

On New York’s next extra-man chance, Caps center Jiri Novotny tried to tip the puck out of the zone to himself for a shorthanded breakaway. It didn’t work and seconds later Miroslav Satan jammed home a rebound off a slap shot from Sean Hill for his 22nd.

Enforcer Donald Brashear tried to fight former Caps defenseman Brendan Witt, but the feeling wasn’t mutual. Brashear was assessed two minor penalties — one for roughing and one for unsportsmanlike conduct after he took issue with the referee’s decision.

The Islanders had four minutes with the extra man and defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron — the team’s first acquisition from Edmonton in the past two weeks — blasted a one-timer from the right point over the right shoulder of Johnson for his 10th goal of the year and second since being acquired Feb. 18.

Former Caps tough guy Chris Simon made it a 4-0 lead with 3:34 left in the second period. He collected the puck below the goal line to the right of Johnson and pinballed it off the back of the goaltender’s legs and into the net for his ninth tally of the season.

After Satan added his 23rd exactly five minutes into the third period, Hanlon pulled Johnson and replaced him Frederic Cassivi for the second time in three games. Johnson finished his night with 18 saves on 23 shots.

Notes — Three power play goals allowed matched a season high for the Caps. …

Smyth scored his first goal in an Islanders uniform to close the scoring. …

Alexandre Giroux will return to Hershey to play tonight but will be back with the Caps tomorrow. …

Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell was in attendance. His appearance on the scoreboard was met with a mixture of cheers and boos, but that might have been in part because of the large contingent of Islanders fans. …

With two points against Tampa Bay on Thursday, Ovechkin reached the 80-point plateau for the second straight season. He is the first Caps player to achieve back-to-back 80-point seasons since Mike Gartner did in the 1983-84 and 1984-85 seasons.


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