Something about playing the Ottawa Senators brings out the best in the Washington Capitals.
``Somehow, we've got their number,'' Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. ``I don't know why it happens.''
Alex Ovechkin scored the tiebreaking goal on a third-period power play and the Capitals completed a season sweep of Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa with a 4-2 victory Tuesday night.
``There are teams in the league you play good against,'' said Mike Green, who also scored. ``Ottawa, we just seem to get excited to play them.''
The Capitals outscored the Senators 22-12 in their four meetings this season, and swept them for the first time since 1995-96. The success doesn't necessarily mean Washington wishes it could play Ottawa more often.
``Absolutely not,'' Boudreau said. ``They're the best team in the league. We don't want to play them every night.''
It was also a tough night for NHL-leading Detroit, which fell to Atlanta 5-1. Marian Hossa scored the team's first three goals and Kari Lehtonen made 46 saves in sending the Red Wings to their third straight loss.
``I have to say, I was looking forward to this day, and now that it's here and gone I'm pretty happy about it,'' said Don Waddell, Atlanta's executive vice president, general manager and coach. He's also from Detroit and a former Red Wings assistant GM.
It was just the sixth time this season that Detroit, which has 70 points, and Ottawa (62) lost on the same day.
In other NHL games Tuesday, it was: Colorado 3, Tampa Bay 2; Toronto 5, Carolina 4; Montreal 3, the New York Islanders 1; Columbus 3, Vancouver 2; Nashville 3, Calgary 0; Phoenix 5, San Jose 3; Los Angeles 3, Edmonton 1; and Anaheim 4, Dallas 2.
At Washington, Ovechkin collected Brooks Laich's long rebound between the circles and pushed in a knuckling shot that glanced off the right leg pad of Ottawa's Ray Emery at 9:11 of the third period for his team-leading 34th goal.
``They're leading our division, so this is very important to win,'' Ovechkin said. ``But for us, it doesn't matter who we play. We have to win. Two points is two points, whether it's against Ottawa or anyone.''
Dean McAmmond and Wade Redden scored for Ottawa.
``Every game we lost (to Washington) this year, it's our own doing,'' Senators defenseman Chris Phillips said. ``Beating ourselves, making mistakes and they're capitalizing on them.''
At Detroit, Hossa notched his seventh career hat trick, and the first in nearly a year; he last scored three times Jan. 16, 2007, against Los Angeles.
``It's great to get three goals and help the team,'' Hossa said. ``But also help with the self confidence.''
Eric Perrin and Slava Kozlov also scored for Atlanta, which moved into first place in the Southeast Division.
``They were better than us early,'' Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. ``They scored on their opportunities and we didn't.''
Avalanche 3, Lightning 0
At Tampa, Fla., Jose Theodore made 22 of his 32 saves in the third period for his 24th career shutout, and first since Feb. 28, 2004, against Carolina.
Jeff Finger and Paul Stastny had power-play goals for the Avalanche, who have won three in a row. Milan Hejduk added an empty-netter with 1:34 left.
The Lightning have lost 12 of 15.
Maple Leafs 5, Hurricanes 4
Ian White had a goal and an assist to help host Toronto snap a five-game losing streak.
Tomas Kaberle, Chad Kilger, Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky also scored the Maple Leafs, who won for the third time in regulation in 14 games.
Sergei Samsonov, Erik Cole, Andrew Ladd and Rob Brind'Amour scored for the Hurricanes, who lost their third in a row and fourth in five games.
Canadiens 3, Islanders 1
Tomas Plekanec scored in each of the first two periods, and Cristobal Huet stopped 17 shots for visiting Montreal.
Plekanec netted an even-strength goal in the first, when Huet faced only one shot, and added a short-handed tally in the second as the Canadiens won for the sixth time in nine games (6-1-2). Alex Kovalev added an empty-netter.
Huet's only blemish came when Richard Park smacked a rebound past him with 9:04 left.
Blue Jackets 3, Canucks 2
Jason Chimera scored a second-period goal and Pascal Leclaire made it stand up with 25 saves as the Blue Jackets set a franchise record with their sixth straight home win.
Daniel Sedin and Kris Beech had the goals for Vancouver, which had given up just one goal in winning the two previous meetings with the Blue Jackets this season.
Predators 3, Flames 0
At Nashville, Tenn., Chris Mason stopped 22 shots for his third shutout of the season, and J.P. Dumont scored a goal and added an assist for the Predators.
Martin Erat and Ville Koistinen also scored for Nashville, which sent Calgary to its fourth straight loss.
Coyotes 5, Sharks 3
At Glendale, Ariz., Shane Doan had two goals and an assist, and Ed Jovanovski had a goal and three assists to lead Phoenix past San Jose.
Peter Mueller added three assists for the Coyotes, who have won seven of nine.
The Pacific Division-leading Sharks dropped back-to-back games for the first time since a three-game skid from Dec. 18-22.
Kings 3, Oilers 1
Patrick O'Sullivan had a goal and an assist as visiting Los Angeles won its third straight.
Dustin Penner had the lone goal for Edmonton, which had its four-game winning streak stopped.
Ducks 4, Stars 2
At Anaheim, Calif., Scott Niedermayer had a goal and two assists, Todd Bertuzzi and Ryan Getzlaf each had a goal and an assist, and the Ducks earned their fourth straight victory.
Todd Marchant scored the go-ahead goal in the second period for the Ducks, who sent the Stars to their seventh loss in nine games.

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