LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals won't go 0-for-the Patrick Division this season, after all.
After four straight losses to their division rivals, and three straight defeats overall, the Capitals beat the New York Islanders, 4-3, last night before 14,164 at the Capital Centre.
A revived power play, which produced all four goals in six attempts after a 3-for-28 stretch, helped Washington (3-5) to its first win in a week. John Druce scored twice for the Capitals. Kevin Hatcher added a goal and two assists.
"The bottom line, the most important thing for us is that we won a game in our division," said Terry Murray, a slightly relieved Capitals coach. "Our power play worked well. When you have an opportunity to put a puck in the net, you get it there."
Druce, the hero of last season's Stanley Cup run, gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead and tied the game at 2-all. Hatcher, who had a slow start after a contract holdout, scored his first goal of the season to put Washington ahead, 3-2, late in the second period.
But after New York (2-4) tied the game at 3-3 on David Volek's second goal of the night, early in the third period, it was Mike Ridley who put the Capitals ahead for good. Ridley deflected in a blast from Hatcher with 9 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the game.
"It was just a reaction goal," said Ridley, whose goal came with 35 seconds left in a one-minute power play the Capitals had after penalties to New York's Gary Nylund, who was given a game-misconduct, and Washington's Dale Hunter. "The puck was about two feet off the ground. My stick was sort of half there."
In this case, half a stick was better than none. The Capitals were able to hold on, as goaltender Mike Liut (23 saves) played solidly down the stretch. The victory came against an Islanders team that was without high-scoring center Pat LaFontaine (strained hamstring) and first-string goalie Glenn Healy (sprained ankle).
"Our penalty killing has been pretty good so far, but our feet were stuck in sand tonight," said Islanders coach Al Arbour. "We were hesitant. We were looking around at each other; we didn't feed off each other. We took some needless penalties and paid the price."
Druce made them pay dearly. After getting off to a slow start, with only one goal in his first seven games, Druce's second goal was reminiscent of many of the goals he scored last spring. It came on a backhand rebound of a blast by Michal Pivonka.
In fact, three of Washington's goals came on rebound follows or deflections, a sign that the Capitals were taking their shots and charging the net. "There are so many people in front, things can happen," said Murray. "Doing the little things leads to success."
Hatcher, who also added two assists, said: "We'll take the goals any way we can get them. We needed a win badly. Now we can put the pressure back on ourselves."
If the Capitals don't, the New Jersey Devils certainly will. The Devils, who beat Washington on a controversial goal at the Meadowlands Wednesday night, will visit the Capital Centre tonight. Washington will go on an extended Western trip after the game.
"This is a very big win for us," said Murray. "To win against a team in our division, at home, and have another game at home tomorrow night, hopefully, it's something to grow on."