Daniel Sprong scored on the game’s first shot, and that stood up as the Washington Capitals defeated the visiting New York Islanders 1-0 on Tuesday night.
The victory moved the Capitals (32-13-4, 68 points) into first place in the East Division as Pittsburgh (32-15-3, 67 points) lost fourth-place Boston on Tuesday.
Pittsburgh now comes to Washington for games on Thursday and Saturday, something that should go a long way toward determining the final East Division standings.
Washington played its second straight game without leading goal-scorer Alex Ovechkin, out with a lower-body injury. Caps coach Peter Laviolette said Tuesday morning Ovechkin is day-to-day and is not expected to miss playoff time because of the injury.
As for the Islanders (29-14-5, 63 points), Tuesday marked the last of three straight games against the Capitals, and Washington won all three — one in shootout and a pair by 1-0 scores. New York now stands third in the East, four points behind Pittsburgh.
This also was the first time fans have been allowed in the Capital One Arena this season. There were approximately 2,100 in attendance, and they saw goalie Vitek Vanecek blank New York with 18 saves.
Those fans saw a physical game where both teams played tough defense. Washington came up with numerous scoring chances but New York goalie Ilya Sorokin was strong and made 32 saves after giving up six goals in Saturday’s 6-3 loss.
Sprong gave Washington a quick lead 89 seconds into the game. Dmitry Orlov won a battle for the puck in the left corner and pushed it over to Sprong, who then fired a shot over Sorokin’s glove for a 1-0 lead.
The Caps had to stand up to plenty of pressure in the final five minutes, but the defense and Vanecek held on.
–Field Level Media