WASHINGTON — Capitals coach Barry Trotz told Daniel Winnik after last season that he wanted more offense from the fourth-line grinder.
Winnik scored twice, on a deflection and a dazzling one-man effort, as Washington beat the New York Islanders 2-1 Saturday night in its home opener. Fourth-liners Winnik, Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson contributed the kind of scoring depth the Capitals hoped to get this season and shut down captain John Tavares and the Islanders’ top line in the process.
“Every game you need different guys to step up, and that line was the reason we won tonight,” said goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 21 saves. “They created the majority of our good chances.”
Winnik’s fifth career multi-goal game was his second in 22 regular-season games in a Capitals uniform. He led the way as the Capitals bounced back from a season-opening shootout loss at Pittsburgh to pick up their first victory.
It took until almost halfway through last season for Washington to lose two consecutive games in any fashion as it won the Presidents’ Trophy.
With that and other brand-new banners hanging from the rafters, the Capitals honored longtime winger Jason Chimera, who left to sign with the Islanders in the offseason, and got production from one of the players they’re counting on to help replace him. Chimera received a hearty standing ovation during a video tribute in the first period that commemorated his seven seasons in Washington and a few memorable playoff goals.
Winnik had no goals in 12 playoff games last spring after coming over from the Toronto Maple Leafs at the trade deadline. The Capitals made a point of upgrading their forward depth over the summer, most notably by acquiring center Lars Eller from Montreal, but Winnik putting points on the board can only help.
“I think he’s capable of it,” Trotz said. “I just said: ‘I expect some offense out of you. Don’t forget that part of the game, you have pretty good instincts.’ That was a pretty good start for him.”
After deflecting John Carlson’s point shot past backup goalie Thomas Greiss to open the scoring 11:58 into the first period, Winnik got on the highlight reel with his second goal of the night. Winnik poked the puck up ice to himself and around Travis Hamonic as the defenseman fell down before deking and beating Greiss 7:46 into the second.
Winnik scored twice only three times in his previous 625 NHL games for the Coyotes, Sharks, Ducks, Avalanche, Penguins and Maple Leafs.
“It’s not the first team I’ve been on where they want me to shoot more pucks,” Winnik said. “It’s something I’ve got to me cognizant of and not look pass-first.”
Winnik, Beagle and Wilson played sparingly against the Penguins because of matchups and were determined to make a difference.
“Those games are going to happen, like the first game,” Beagle said. “You’ve just got to be ready when the line is called and get out there and try and make an impact on the game.”
Ryan Strome scored a power-play goal in the first period for the Islanders, who have no points through two games after losing to the Rangers on Thursday. This was a better performance but lacked the finish.
“I feel like we probably played a little bit better game today,” Tavares said. “We had our chances, just weren’t able to bury them.”
Like the loss to the Rangers, this game featured rookie mistakes as Mathew Barzal took two penalties in the first 5:06 in his NHL debut.
“He’ll never forget that first shift, will he?” coach Jack Capuano said. “I thought he rebounded well after that.”
Greiss stopped 26 of the 28 shots he faced in his first start of the season.
NOTES: Islanders rookie Anthony Beauvillier was a healthy scratch for Barzal. Coach Jack Capuano said the team had to figure out what the 19-year-olds could do because carrying only six defensemen is not the long-term plan. … The Capitals went 0 for 5 on the power play and are now 0 for 8 through two games.
Islanders: Welcome the Anaheim Ducks to Barclays Center on Sunday for their home opener and the start of five consecutive home games.
Capitals: Host the Colorado Avalanche and new coach Jared Bednar on Tuesday.
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