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Islanders too much for slumping Capitals

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Associated Press
11/25/2006 11:02:25 PM

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - Chris Simon interrupted Jason Blake's post-game interview by drilling his teammate with a handful of ice cubes.

The way the New York Islanders forward is going, that might be the only thing that cools him off.

Blake scored two goals, and Rick DiPietro made 33 saves, lifting the surging Islanders to a 4-1 victory over the slumping Washington Capitals on Saturday night.

Blake has goals in four of five games for the Islanders, 6-1-1 in their last eight. Washington, still smarting from a 7-1 home loss to Toronto on Friday, lost its sixth straight - including two overtime defeats.

"He wants to score goals every time he is on the ice," DiPietro said of his U.S. Olympic teammate. "Every time he gets the puck, everyone on the bench thinks that we're going to have a chance to score."

The only downside came when captain Alexei Yashin stumbled to the bench late in the third period after absorbing a knee-to-knee collision with Washington's Matt Bradley.

Yashin, who assisted on both goals by Blake, declined to talk after the game. He was diagnosed with a bruised knee and will have an MRI taken Monday.

"A little nervous, actually," Blake said of his feelings when Yashin went down. "He's a tough guy, a tough competitor. Hopefully it's nothing to worry about."

Richard Park and Trent Hunter also scored for the Islanders, who swept a three-game homestand.

Yashin, New York's leader with 28 points, extended his point streak to five games. He has seven goals and 10 assists in 13 games. He was injured with 6:45 remaining and stayed on the bench.

Alex Ovechkin had the lone tally for Washington.

DiPietro denied two earlier scoring chances by Ovechkin, last season's NHL rookie of the year. The flashy forward twice fired pucks from the slot that DiPietro stopped. Eric Fehr also was turned aside when DiPietro quickly slid across the crease and handled his hard, one-timed shot.

"Anytime you get your team battling that hard in front of the net for you it's going to pay off," DiPietro said.

Both teams started slowly as they each took the ice for the third time in four days. While the Islanders found their legs, the Capitals couldn't shake the doldrums.

Blake finished off a pretty triangular passing play that saw the puck move from Yashin in the left circle to Sean Hill at the dot in the right. Hill spotted Blake alone at the left post and hit the center of his stick with a pass that was deflected into the open side for a power-play goal with 5:00 left in the first.

Just 1:18 into the second, New York's five-foot-10 spark plug struck again and bolstered what already was the best start of his eight-season NHL career.

"Well, I'm playing with Alexei Yashin and he's getting me the puck," Blake said. "Ever since we've been joined, things have been going good."

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