Vanek aims to keep Isles in win column against Capitals

( - Thomas Vanek scored his first goal with his new team the last time out and he'll try to help the New York Islanders earn a third straight win when they visit the Washington Capitals for Tuesday's clash at Verizon Center.

Vanek has played three games with the Isles since coming over in a blockbuster trade with Buffalo on Oct. 27. New York gave up forward Matt Moulson plus a pair of draft picks -- a first-round selection in 2014 and a second-rounder in 2015 -- to land Vanek.

The Austrian sniper went without a point in his New York debut, a 3-2 loss against the rival Rangers last Tuesday, but has since posted a goal and two assists in consecutive wins for the Islanders. Vanek had an assist in Friday's 5-4 win at Ottawa and then notched a goal and a helper in the following day's 3-1 triumph over visiting Boston.

Kevin Poulin, who had given up seven goals in his two starts this season, only allowed one on 27 shots Saturday to earn the win. John Tavares and Andrew MacDonald lit the lamp for the Islanders, who have won back-to-back games for the first time this season.

"They played excellent in front of me," Poulin said of his teammates.

The Isles expect to have Evgeni Nabokov back in the crease on Tuesday, when they begin a four-game road trip. New York is 3-2-0 as the visiting team so far this season.

Vanek and the Isles will face a Washington team that has also posted wins in back-to-back games despite playing both of those tilts without superstar winger Alex Ovechkin, who is battling an upper-body injury.

The Caps had little trouble scoring in their first game without Ovechkin, torching the Philadelphia Flyers by a 7-0 score in Friday's road game. Washington followed with Saturday's close shootout victory against the visiting Florida Panthers.

Mikhail Grabovski, Brooks Laich and Nicklas Backstrom scored shootout goals to lead the Capitals to a 3-2 decision over the Panthers. Washington led 2-1 late in regulation, but Florida capitalized on a 4-on-3 power-play when Tomas Fleischmann beat Michal Neuvirth to force overtime.

Neuvirth stopped 31-of-33 shots he faced in the victory and made a difficult glove save in the shootout on Jonathan Huberdeau, allowing Backstrom to wrist the game-winner past Scott Clemmensen.

"Tonight was an ugly one," said Backstrom. "Neuvy (Neuvirth) played great and kept us in the game."

Backstrom and John Carlson scored in regulation for the Caps.

Ovechkin, a three-time Hart Trophy winner, made a full return to practice on Monday and expects to play in Tuesday's game. The Russian has 10 goals in 12 games this season and has victimized the Islanders for 19 goals and 31 points in 29 career games against them.

The Caps are 4-3-0 on home ice this season and are playing the middle test of a three-game residency tonight. Washington will complete the homestand Thursday against Minnesota.

The Islanders have won four of the past seven overall meetings against Washington, but the Caps have taken two of three and five of their last seven home games in this series.