WASHINGTON — Trade-deadline pickup Pierre Engvall scored his second goal in two games, Ilya Sorokin made 28 saves and the New York Islanders took another step toward a return to the playoffs by defeating the Washington Capitals in a 2-game shootout Wednesday night : 1 defeated.
With their second straight win — and the first of six shootouts this season — the Islanders cemented their spot on the Eastern Conference’s first wild card. They are now five points clear of Pittsburgh and six points ahead of Florida with five regular-season games left.
Sorokin was again crucial for New York, stopping two of three shooters on penalties after previously making some key saves. The all-star goaltender improved to 8-1-1 in his last 10 games, a stretch in which he has stopped 263 of 286 shots.
Engvall scored his sixth goal since being taken over by Toronto, while Bo Horvat and Kyle Palmieri scored in the tie-break. The Islanders have played 11-4-2 since top center and second-best scorer Mathew Barzal went down with a lower body injury.
There is nothing new to report on Barzal’s status, according to Lane Lambert, who is back in his old home for the first time as NHL head coach. Lambert was an assistant on Barry’s staff when the Capitals won the 2018 Stanley Cup and succeeded him as coach of the Islanders, but didn’t see the return as particularly significant.
“We had some good memories, Barry and I, here and the first time here four years ago was maybe a little bit of this or that,” Lambert said earlier in the day. “But we’ve been here so many times that it’s no different.”
The Islanders return on April 10, by which time they could be in position to secure a playoff berth – their fourth in five years. New York reached the East Finals in 2020 and 2021 before a combination of a lengthy opening road trip and a string of injuries and virus absences derailed last season.
Similar trials and tribulations have afflicted Washington this season, likely ending the organization’s postseason streak at eight. The Capitals, long without Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and John Carlson, were sellers after a rough patch at the close, losing five of six to drop out.
Conor Sheary scored Washington’s only goal and Darcy Kuemper made 25 saves as he fell to 21-22-6 in his first season with his new team after pushing Colorado back to the Cup last year.
Islanders: Catch the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.
Capitals: In Tampa Bay on Thursday evening.
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