John Tavares and his linemates had one of their roughest games of the season Tuesday as the Islanders lost an early two-goal lead.

But the reason Tavares is the engine that makes the Islanders go is that he finds a way to get results. He did just that, ripping a shot past Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby with 5:18 to play, snapping a 2-2 tie and sending the Isles to their biggest win of the season, a 3-2 victory over Washington that moved the Islanders into sole possession of ninth place in the East, two points behind the Rangers.

"When you have your leaders like those guys, you have to show the faith and confidence in them," said Jack Capuano, who strongly considered undoing the Tavares-Matt Moulson-Brad Boyes line for the third period. "No matter how the game's going, those are your guys. And they got a pretty big one for us."

After a few rough shifts in their own end over the first two periods, Tavares and mates were there to pounce on a Capitals mistake late. Mike Green flubbed a play by the side of his own goal, Moulson grabbed the puck and sent it back to Tavares, whose laser caromed off the post and behind Holtby.

"I just think we recognized how important this game was," said Tavares, whose line had the most trouble against Alex Ovechkin's line.