Alex Ovechkin became the 11th player in NHL history to score 50 or more goals in a season five times, and the Washington Capitals kept their slim playoff hopes alive by beating the slumping St Louis Blues 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Ovechkin, who added two assists, beat Ryan Miller with a one-timer from the left circle at 17 minutes, 54 seconds of the first period for his 50th goal overall and 23rd on the power play, both league highs. It is Ovechkin’s first 50-goal campaign since 2009-2010, when he scored 50. His single-season high is 65 in the 2007-2008 season.
Nicklas Backstrom scored twice and Mikhail Grabovski added another goal for the Capitals, who have 85 points and are still on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture looking in with three games remaining.
Maxim Lapierre had the only goal for St Louis, who have lost a season-high three straight.
FLYERS 5, PANTHERS 2
In Sunrise, Florida, Claude Giroux scored two goals and the Philadelphia Flyers clinched a playoff berth by beating the Florida Panthers.
Tye McGinn, Sean Couturier and Vincent Lecavalier also scored for the Flyers, while Steve Mason made 38 saves. The Flyers won their second consecutive game after losing the four previous games.
Jonathan Huberdeau and Erik Gudbranson scored for Florida and Dan Ellis stopped 22 shots. Ellis substituted for Roberto Luongo, a late scratch with an upper-body injury. The Panthers have lost six of their past seven games.
LIGHTNING 3, MAPLE LEAFS 0
In Tampa, Florida, Ondrej Palat had two goals, while Anders Lindback came off the bench to make 25 saves as the Tampa Bay Lightning ended Toronto’s playoff hopes by beating the Maple Leafs.
Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop left with 14:17 remaining in the first due to an undisclosed upper-body injury. He was hurt while lunging to his left and landing on his side while attempting to glove the puck. Lindback replaced Bishop, who is 37-14-7 this season for the playoff-bound Lightning.
Victor Hedman had an empty-net goal late in the third for the Lightning, who trail Montreal by two points for second place in the Atlantic Division. Bishop turned aside three shots before departing.
James Reimer stopped 31 shots for the Maple Leafs, who have lost 10 of 12.
RANGERS 4, HURRICANES 1
In New York, Brad Richards scored two power-play goals as the playoff-bound New York Rangers improved their chances for home-ice advantage in the first round with a victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Richards scored in the first period to tie it and then stretched New York’s lead to two goals in the second period with his 20th of the season — the 10th time he has reached the mark in the NHL. Martin St. Louis had his best game with the Rangers with three assists, and Benoit Pouliot and Derek Stepan also scored.
Henrik Lundqvist made 27 saves as the Rangers beat the Hurricanes for the 11th time in 12 games.
Patrick Dwyer scored for Carolina.
RED WINGS 4, SABRES 2
In Buffalo, New York, Darren Helm scored the go-ahead goal 3:33 into the third period to inch the Detroit Red Wings closer to clinching a playoff berth with a win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Brendan Smith, David Legwand and Pavel Datsyuk, into an empty net, also scored for the Red Wings, while Jimmy Howard made 25 saves. Detroit moved within a point of securing one of the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card playoff spots, and extending its run of postseason berths to 23 straight seasons.