The New York Islanders gave their flickering hopes of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs a boost on Tuesday night.

Andrew MacDonald scored the game's lone goal 2:16 into the third period and Evgeni Nabokov made 22 saves for his 57th career shutout to lead the Islanders to a 1-0 victory against the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center.

"It's a good win for our team," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. "We're a desperate team. I thought our guys really worked hard [Tuesday] right from the start."

The win snapped New York's 0-4-1 slide. The Islanders are 10 points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 24 games remaining.

They know making up that kind of deficit won't be easy, but they're not giving up hope.

"I thought the past few games, we hadn't really been getting the results that we've wanted, and we played pretty good, but [Tuesday] was a great one to get, especially considering the way the games we played against [Washington] this year have gone," MacDonald said. "It was a big divisional game and we knew these three games going into the [Olympic] break were going to be pretty crucial for us. It's a good start."

Washington (25-23-9) lost its sixth straight game within the Metropolitan Division and is 0-6-1 in intradivisional games since a 3-2 victory against the New York Rangers on Dec. 27. The Capitals are three points behind the Detroit Red Wings for the final wild-card playoff berth in the East.

One game after defeating the Red Wings 6-5 in overtime on Sunday, the Capitals were shut out for the fourth time this season. All four shutouts have come at home.

"It's hard to explain," forward Martin Erat said. "We win [a] big game against Detroit and [then] we have to come back and get to the next game. We can't go one game and then the next come in flat. We just have to figure it out. We have 25 games left and it's going to be a sprint."

With time and space to wind up, MacDonald's blast from the right point eluded a screened Michal Neuvirth (24 saves) 16 seconds after New York failed to score on a power play.

The first period was physical but featured little in the way of offense. Each team had eight shots on goal, though Washington generated more sustained offensive-zone pressure.