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Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders hand Washington Capitals rare shutout loss

Apr 6, 2021; Uniondale, New York, USA; New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal (13) and Washington Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) battle for the puck during the first period between the New York Islanders and the Washington Capitals at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Nelson scored the game’s only goal with 6:55 left in the third period Wednesday night and Semyon Varlamov made 29 saves as the New York Islanders moved into a first-place tie with the Capitals by beating Washington 1-0 in Uniondale, N.Y.

New York earned its third win in a row while the Capitals fell for the third time in five games (2-3-0).

The two teams had 19 shots apiece over the first two periods before a far more open third, when they combined for 19 shots before the Islanders finally broke the tie.

Ryan Pulock fired a shot from the blue line, and Josh Bailey, battling for position with Capitals defenseman Nick Jensen, leaped, whirled and got a stick on the puck. Nelson swooped in and put back the rebound between goalie Vitek Vanecek’s legs.

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The Capitals pulled Vanecek with a little under two minutes left but got just one more shot on Varlamov, who posted his fourth shutout of the season. Vanacek recorded 38 saves.

It was the second 1-0 win of the season for the Islanders, who also beat the visiting Boston Bruins by that score on Jan. 18. It was the first regular-season shutout defeat for the Capitals since a 3-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 27, 2020, and their first 1-0 loss since they fell to the Boston Bruins on Feb. 3, 2019.

The Islanders outshot the Capitals 12-7 and had the biggest scoring chances in the first period. Noah Dobson had a shot carom off the post, and Vanecek sprawled to get a shot on a rebound attempt by Cal Clutterbuck before covering up the puck fewer than five minutes after the opening faceoff.

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The Capitals then outshot the Islanders by the same count in the second, but they fell to 0-for-2 on the power play for the night. Alex Ovechkin had a shot flutter over the crease in the opening minute while Varlamov turned back Evgeny Kuznetsov at point-blank range just after the midway point.

New York also failed to score on its two man-advantage opportunities.

–Field Level Media