NHL

Capitals-Islanders Preview

The NHL-best Washington Capitals don't want to disrupt that chemistry ahead of next week's trade deadline.

The first change the New York Islanders would like to make is reversing their luck against Braden Holtby and Alex Ovechkin.

The Capitals' stars look to lead them to another win over the Islanders on Thursday night in Brooklyn.

Washington (41-10-4) leads the league with 86 points and has won six of its last seven games following Tuesday's 3-1 victory over Los Angeles. Scoring a league-best 3.29 goals per game and ranking second by allowing 2.27, the Capitals seem poised to stand pat at Monday's trade deadline.

"There's obviously a lot of really good players in the league, but I feel like from top to bottom we've got a really good close core," right wing T.J. Oshie said. "We battle well together. We play hard together. We mesh well on and off the ice."

Washington has had few issues lately against the Islanders (30-19-6), going 8-1-2 in the last 11 regular-season meetings and eliminating them in seven games of their first-round playoff series in April.

Ovechkin has 30 goals and 18 assists in 46 overall meetings with New York, while Holtby is 12-4-2 with a 1.94 goals-against average - winning five of his last six with a 1.30 GAA.

Those two were vital in a 3-2 home win over the Islanders on Feb. 4. Ovechkin netted the decisive tally with 2:40 left to play, while Holtby had 24 saves.

He stopped 34 shots in Brooklyn on Jan. 7 and Ovechkin had a goal in a 4-1 victory.

Ovechkin, the league-leader with 35 goals, scored six times during a four-game streak that ended in Tuesday's 3-1 win over Los Angeles. Holtby was rested in favor of backup Philipp Grubauer, who stopped 39 shots.

Holtby has a 2.96 GAA over his last seven games, but he's 5-1-1 thanks to Washington's scoring.

"I don't know if that's him or us. I want to put that on us because when we weren't so sharp, he was very sharp. I wouldn't put it on him," coach Barry Trotz said.

Before opening a season-high seven-game road trip Friday in New Jersey, the Islanders are trying to match their longest home winning streak of 2015-16 at five. They scored three goals in the second period to beat Detroit 4-1 on Monday, winning for the fourth time in five tries overall.

"I thought we played three solid periods," coach Jack Capuano said.

John Tavares has 15 points in 10 games, getting at least one in nine after setting up Ryan Strome's tally against the Red Wings. That stretch also includes a five-game home point streak for the Islanders captain, scoring three goals with six assists.

Tavares doesn't have a point in three straight meetings with the Capitals, including a 2-1 defeat in Game 7.

Brock Nelson has three goals and three assists in 15 career matchups, but he has one point in each of the two this season.

Nelson and Tavares are tied for the team lead with 21 goals.

It's unknown if Jaroslav Halak will be back in net after Thomas Greiss made 28 saves Monday. Halak has lost four of his last five starts with a 4.26 GAA while being pulled twice.

Greiss has won all five decisions over his last six games with a 2.07 GAA.

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