Jason Blake scores two goals to help lead Islanders to 4-1 win over Capitals

The Canadian Press
The Hockey News

Jason Blake scores two goals to help lead Islanders to 4-1 win over Capitals

The Canadian Press

The way the New York Islanders forward is going, that might be the only thing that cools him off.

Blake scored two goals, and Rick DiPietro made 33 saves, lifting the surging Islanders to a 4-1 victory over the slumping Washington Capitals on Saturday night.

Blake has goals in four of five games for the Islanders, 6-1-1 in their last eight. Washington, still smarting from a 7-1 home loss to Toronto on Friday, lost its sixth straight - including two overtime defeats.

"He wants to score goals every time he is on the ice," DiPietro said of his U.S. Olympic teammate. "Every time he gets the puck, everyone on the bench thinks that we're going to have a chance to score."

The only downside came when captain Alexei Yashin stumbled to the bench late in the third period after absorbing a knee-to-knee collision with Washington's Matt Bradley.

Yashin, who assisted on both goals by Blake, declined to talk after the game. He was diagnosed with a bruised knee and will have an MRI taken Monday.

"A little nervous, actually," Blake said of his feelings when Yashin went down. "He's a tough guy, a tough competitor. Hopefully it's nothing to worry about."

Richard Park and Trent Hunter also scored for the Islanders, who swept a three-game homestand.

Yashin, New York's leader with 28 points, extended his point streak to five games. He has seven goals and 10 assists in 13 games. He was injured with 6:45 remaining and stayed on the bench.

Alex Ovechkin had the lone tally for Washington.

DiPietro denied two earlier scoring chances by Ovechkin, last season's NHL rookie of the year. The flashy forward twice fired pucks from the slot that DiPietro stopped. Eric Fehr also was turned aside when DiPietro quickly slid across the crease and handled his hard, one-timed shot.

"Anytime you get your team battling that hard in front of the net for you it's going to pay off," DiPietro said.

Both teams started slowly as they each took the ice for the third time in four days. While the Islanders found their legs, the Capitals couldn't shake the doldrums.

Blake finished off a pretty triangular passing play that saw the puck move from Yashin in the left circle to Sean Hill at the dot in the right. Hill spotted Blake alone at the left post and hit the center of his stick with a pass that was deflected into the open side for a power-play goal with 5:00 left in the first.

Just 1:18 into the second, New York's five-foot-10 spark plug struck again and bolstered what already was the best start of his eight-season NHL career.

"Well, I'm playing with Alexei Yashin and he's getting me the puck," Blake said. "Ever since we've been joined, things have been going good."

Yashin again got the rush going by deftly lifting a pass from the neutral zone to Blake as he crossed into the Washington end. Blake rushed around former Islanders defenceman John Erskine, drew goalie Olie Kolzig out of the net before backhanding a shot behind him while going airborne across the crease.

Blake, who scored a career-high 28 goals last season, has a team-best 14 goals and 24 points through 22 games.

"He seemed to have his skates in overdrive," Islanders coach Ted Nolan said. "He was flying all over the ice."

Park stretched New York's lead to 3-0 with 1:20 remaining in the second period, finding a rebound among three Capitals in front and knocking in his third.

"We're just getting some bad bounces," said Kolzig, who made 26 saves. "I'm a firm believer that the bounces even out, though. We'll get our share."

DiPietro, who lost three shutouts in the final 10 minutes of his previous six starts, carried another blanking into the third period, but Ovechkin scored a power-play goal 2:48 in. That snapped the Islanders' streak of 16 consecutive penalty kills - including nine in a 3-1 victory Friday over Pittsburgh.

Washington could've broken New York's run late in the first when New York took three consecutive penalties. The Islanders killed a 5-on-3 power play that was extended to nearly two minutes by the third penalty.

Notes: The Islanders inducted forward Bob Bourne into the team's new Hall of Fame. Bourne was a member of New York's four Stanley Cup-winning teams from 1980-83. ... Washington is 1-2-2 in the second half of back-to-back games. ... Ovechkin has goals in three of four games. ... Hunter's empty-net goal was New York's first short-handed tally this season.


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Jason Blake scores two goals to help lead Islanders to 4-1 win over Capitals