The Capitals tied it on a fluke power play goal less than 90 seconds into the second. John Carlson's slap shot from the blue line glanced off Nabokov's glove, but Ward, who had his back to the goal, glanced over his shoulder and backhanded the puck past three Islanders and Nabokov.
The Islanders regained the lead just before the midway point of the second when Cizikas beat Grubauer with a slap shot from the right faceoff circle. Matt Martin set up the goal by picking off the puck at center ice and passing it to Colin McDonald.
Backstrom tied it 7:09 into the third with a scorching slap shot from just beyond the left faceoff circle that sailed over Nabokov's right shoulder.
NOTES: The Islanders scratched center Keith Aucoin, winger Eric Boulton and defenseman Joe Finley, while the Capitals scratched goalie Michal Neuvirth, defenseman Tom Poti and winger Aaron Volpatti. ... Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky returned to the team after missing two games because of a family tragedy in his native Slovakia. ... Islanders assistant coach Brent Thompson began serving a two-game suspension Saturday for drawing a game misconduct Thursday following the Islanders' 2-1 overtime loss to the Rangers. Thompson was arguing the sticking penalty on Michael Grabner that led to the Rangers' game-winning power play goal. ... Grubauer made his NHL debut against the Flyers on Feb. 27, when he made 14 saves in relief of Braden Holtby in the Capitals' 4-1 loss. ... Saturday marked the start of the Capitals' fourth set of back-to-back games, but their first set played entirely on the road. Washington visits the Rangers on Sunday.