Capitals pour it on late to defeat Islanders

Anthony Mantha, Nic Dowd and Nicklas Backstrom scored in the third period Saturday night for the visiting Washington Capitals, who bolstered their playoff hopes by pulling away for a 5-1 win over the New York Islanders in Elmont, N.Y.

Dylan Strome and T.J. Oshie scored in the first period for the Capitals, who won for just the fourth time in 13 games (4-8-1). Washington is five points behind the Islanders and the Pittsburgh Penguins in the race for Eastern Conference wild-card berths.

Goalie Darcy Kuemper made 17 saves.

Pierre Engvall scored for the Islanders, who had their three-game winning streak snapped. Goalie Semyon Varlamov recorded 22 saves.

The Islanders opened the scoring in unusual fashion 5:18 after the opening faceoff. New York right winger Hudson Fasching and Washington defenseman Matt Irwin pursued a loose puck, which Fasching got to a moment before Irwin tripped him.

The puck skipped to Engvall as referee Beau Halkidis held up his hand and prepared to call a penalty. Engvall continued skating up the ice and sent a shot into the crease that bounced off the stick of Capitals defenseman Alexander Alexeyev — who was sliding and had his back to Engvall — and past Kuemper.

The Capitals tied the score just 83 seconds later. Trevor van Riemsdyk’s shot caromed off the back boards and to Rasmus Sandin (three assists), who passed to Strome. The center fired a shot that sailed under the stick arm of Varlamov.

The duo of van Riemsdyk and Sandin helped set up Oshie’s goal in the final minute of the first. Van Riemsdyk passed from the slot to Sandin, who dished into the crease as Oshie got open behind Islanders defenseman Noah Dobson. Oshie put his stick down and flicked the puck into the wide-open middle of the net with 46.9 seconds left in the first period.

The Capitals put the game away by scoring three times in a span of a little more than nine minutes in the third. Varlamov turned back a point-blank shot by Alex Ovechkin before Oveckin poked the rebound to Mantha, who scored at 4:15.

Dowd scored off an Islanders turnover with 7:42 left and Backstrom scored following a Capitals faceoff win 61 seconds later.