Nicklas Backstrom had two goals and two assists to lift the Washington Capitals to a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Friday’s meeting of the NHL Southeast Division’s top two teams.
Alex Ovechkin had a goal and three assists while Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera also scored for the Capitals, who moved within three points of the first-place Lightning. Washington had gone 0-1-2 in its previous three games, scoring just three goals over that stretch.
“This game was very important for both teams,” Ovechkin said. “They’re in first place, and we want to be in their spot.”
“It felt a little bit like a playoff game,” Backstrom said. “It was a big game for us, a big two points.”
Teddy Purcell and Brett Clark scored for Tampa Bay, which had a six-game winning streak end.
“Last two times we played these guys, we shut them out. We just shut out [Philadelphia], and there was absolutely no urgency in our game,” Lighting coach Guy Boucher said.
“It’s a lack of respect for the opponent. They [Washington] kept saying they had to play the game of their season, and they did. They deserved everything that happened to them tonight,” he said.
Canucks 4, Blackhawks 3
In Vancouver, Daniel Sedin scored with 4 minutes left to take over the NHL scoring lead and lift Vancouver over Chicago.
Daniel, who also had an assist on twin brother Henrik’s tying goal 6 minutes earlier, moved one point ahead of Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos for the league lead with 69 points.
Christian Ehrhoff and Mikael Samuelsson also scored for the Canucks, who have won five straight.
Jonathan Toews, Nick Boynton and Dave Bolland had goals for the Blackhawks.
Penguins 3, Sabres 2
In Pittsburgh, the hosts scored three goals in a second-period span of 3:14 to overcome Buffalo.
Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke scored the goals for Pittsburgh, who have won five consecutive games.
Evgeni Malkin returned to the lineup after missing the previous five games due to a left knee injury and a sinus infection, but he was knocked out of the game during the first shift of the second period with a lower-body injury.
In the first 7 minutes of playing without Malkin, the Penguins — 10-1 without him this season — scored three times.
Paul Gaustad and Mike Grier scored for Buffalo, playing its first game in 10 days.
Blue Jackets 3, Red Wings 0
In Detroit, Steve Mason made 34 saves for his 17th career shutout, helping Columbus to defeat Detroit.
Antoine Vermette and Andrew Murray each had a goal and an assist and Jared Boll also scored for Columbus.
Murray scored into an empty net with 1:12 remaining.
Panthers 4, Devils 3, OT
In Newark, New Jersey, Rostislav Olesz scored the winner two minutes into overtime on a sharp-angle shot from the bottom of the right circle that slipped past New Jersey goaltender Johan Hedberg.
Chris Higgins, Dennis Wideman and Mike Santorelli also scored for the Panthers.
Florida cooled off the Devils, who are 8-2-1 in their past 11.
Travis Zajac, Jason Arnott and Mark Fayne scored for New Jersey.
Blues 5, Oilers 3
In St Louis, Andy McDonald had an assist in his first game back from a 24-game concussion-related absence as St Louis took the honors against Edmonton.
T.J. Oshie got his second goal in six games back from a broken ankle, while Alex Pietrangelo, Matt D’Agostini, Brad Boyes and Erik Johnson also scored for the Blues.