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Nabokov gets 57th career shutout, 2nd of season; Islanders break 5-game skid, top Capitals 1-0

Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19), from Sweden, and New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) work to get the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19), from Sweden, and New York Islanders right wing Kyle Okposo (21) work to get the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON - The left half of the net was wide open for Troy Brouwer. When he missed badly, putting his shot wide, he was so exasperated that he slumped his shoulders and looked to the rafters as play continued.

It was that kind of game for both the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders, who seemingly tried to top each other in trying to find the best way to waste a scoring chance. Players whiffed on open one-timers, several shots hit the goal frame, and all 11 power plays had fruitless outcomes.

Andrew MacDonald was the only player to find the target, scoring early in the third period Tuesday night as the last-place Islanders broke a five-game losing streak with a 1-0 win.

"We're a desperate team," New York coach Jack Capuano said. "I thought our guys really worked hard right from the start. ... We've been playing hard; we haven't been getting results."

MacDonald's slap shot from the point went past screened goalie Michal Neuvirth and just under the crossbar with 17:44 to play. Evgeni Nabokov, making his third start since returning from a groin injury, stopped 22 shots for his 57th career shutout. The Islanders scored only one goal for the third straight gameā€”but at least this time it was enough to win.

"There was a lot of special teams. It was kind of a weird one," MacDonald said. "You don't really want to play with fire too much against these guys and give them too many power plays, but fortunately we were able to draw a couple while they were on the power play and negate them."

Neuvirth made 27 saves for the Capitals, who have lost 10 of 13 to tumble toward the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, only seven points ahead of the Islanders. Washington has been shut out four times this season, all at home.

"It's not acceptable, the way we played tonight. That's for sure," Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom said.

Washington's Eric Fehr hit the right post in the first period, not long before teammate Brouwer's frustrating misfire. New York's Cal Clutterbuck hit the intersection of the crossbar and right post on a short-handed attempt midway through the second, and teammate Kyle Okposo put one off the right post later in the period. The Islanders were granted a rare short-handed penalty shot in the third period, but Michael Grabner's attempt was saved by Neuvirth.

Most significantly, the Capitals' talented power play went 0 for 6. Alex Ovechkin had three shots on goal for the game, with four other attempts blocked.

Washington coach Adam Oates said perhaps his team had "a little fatigue" and that veteran players need to stop taking unnecessary penalties. He also noted it wasn't the greatest performance by the Islanders.

"I don't think they executed, either," Oates said. "Both power plays were pretty ineffective."

NOTES: Capitals D John Carlson played in his 271st consecutive game, tying Calle Johansson for the longest streak by a defenceman in franchise history. ... Washington D Mike Green missed his third consecutive game with a concussion, and LW Aaron Volpatti sat out with an upper-body injury.

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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