Capitals try to continue surge versus Islanders

The surging Washington Capitals will try to reclaim first place in the Southeast Division when they host the lowly New York Islanders in tonight's clash at the Verizon Center.

Washington forged a tie with Florida atop the Southeast Division standings by beating Carolina on Sunday, but the Panthers took over the top spot by one point with Monday's shootout loss in Boston.

The hard-charging Capitals enter tonight with three straight wins and also have notched victories in seven of their last nine trips to the ice.

The Capitals and Hurricanes were tied after 40 minutes on Sunday, but Dmitry Orlov's first career goal at 1:12 of the third period lifted Washington to the 2-1 decision.

Jason Chimera skated down the left wing on the winning goal and sent a chip pass on net that Orlov redirected past Cam Ward. From there, Caps goaltender Tomas Vokoun was busy as he had to stop 18 shots in the final frame to give the team the win.

Alexander Semin scored the other goal for the Capitals, while Vokoun made 43 saves for the win.

"They played a very strong game and didn't give us much of anything," said Washington head coach Dale Hunter. "But we were able to take advantage of the few mistakes they did make."

The victory improved Washington to 3-0 on a four-game homestand and 17-5-1 as the host this season. Following tonight's tilt, the Capitals will play three straight and six of their next seven on the road, where Washington is just 7-12-1 this year.

Washington has been playing recently without the services of Nicklas Backstrom (head) and Mike Green (groin). Backstrom, who leads Washington with 42 points, has missed five straight tilts and is considered day-to-day. Green has missed four in a row and 27 of the last 29 games with his groin injury and is out indefinitely.

The Islanders enter tonight tied for last in the East with Tampa Bay and New York lost for the fourth time in six games with Monday afternoon's home setback against Nashville. New York fired 37 shots at Pekka Rinne in the matinee, but the Predators goaltender stopped 36 en route to his team's 3-1 victory at Nassau Coliseum.

"We mismanaged the puck," said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. "The first two goals came off turnovers."

The only puck to get past Rinne came when John Tavares scored on a deflection in front of the net, spoiling the shutout bid with 3:58 remaining in the third period. Tavares has recorded a point in nine straight games and has five goals and 11 helpers during the hot streak. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft is also leading New York with 43 points this year.

Kevin Poulin posted 29 saves in his second start of the season for the Islanders. Evgeni Nabokov, who started the previous 11 games in net for New York, is expected back between the pipes this evening

The Islanders are kicking off a two-game road trip tonight and will also stop at Philadelphia on Thursday. New York is 6-10-3 as the guest this year.

The only meeting between the Isles and Caps so far this year came on Nov. 5 and New York posted a 5-3 home win. Washington has still taken 11 of 13 overall in the series and the Islanders have dropped three straight, five of six and seven of their last 11 tests in D.C.