Vanecek, Capitals gain in East playoff race with win against Islanders

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WASHINGTON — Vitek Vanecek made 18 saves, and the Washington Capitals gained ground in the MassMutual East Division playoff race with a 1-0 win against the New York Islanders at Capital One Arena on Tuesday.

Daniel Sprong scored his third goal in two games for the Capitals (32-13-4), who swept the three-game set and have won seven of nine.

The Capitals won 1-0 in a shootout last Thursday and 6-3 on Saturday, each at New York. They won six of eight games against the Islanders this season.

Ilya Sorokin made 32 saves for the Islanders (29-15-5), who have lost five of seven.

New York has scored 15 goals (two in overtime) in its past nine games.

Captials forward Alex Ovechkin missed his second straight game because of a lower body injury.

Sprong gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead on Washington’s first shot when he skated out of the left corner and put a shot over Sorokin’s left shoulder at 1:29 of the first period.

Sorokin kept it a one-goal game when he made a save against Anthony Mantha on a breakaway at 4:45 of the third.

The Islanders went 0-for-3 on the power play; the Capitals were 0-for-2.

Washington played in front of fans (2,133) at home for the first time this season.

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