WASHINGTON, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Defenseman Sergei Gonchar and Andrei Nikolishin scored power-play goals Tuesday as the Washington Capitals recorded a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders, who are winless in the last 21 games in the series.
The Islanders are one of the NHL's biggest surprises this season and are much improved, contending for the Atlantic Division title. But they managed just a 5-5 tie against Washington on Nov. 27 and are 0-18-3 in games against the Capitals since April 12, 1997.
Washington was two of five on the man advantage and improved its second-place rating to 21.4 percent, just one-tenth of a point behind Detroit for the league lead.
New York failed on its five power-play chances, including a five on three in the first period.
Gonchar opened the scoring with the Capitals on a two-man advantage 3:53 into the second period. Adam Oates fed the puck outside the left circle to Gonchar, who faked a return pass and took a slap shot that beat goaltender Garth Snow through a screen for his 14th goal and fourth in the last six games.
After Jason Blake's goal tied the game just under two minutes later, Nikolishin tallied his eighth of the season with 2:36 remaining. He redirected Peter Bondra's shot from the point that also beat Snow to the glove side.