BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -Alexander Ovechkin scored twice, including his NHL-leading 54th goal, in the Washington Capitals' 3-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday night in a key Eastern Conference playoff-race matchup.
Niklas Backstrom, who entered as the NHL's rookie scoring leader, had a goal and assist while Olie Kolzig made 25 saves for his 299th career victory. Washington jumped into 10th place in the East standings, a point behind Buffalo and two back of Philadelphia, which holds the final playoff berth.
Ales Kotalik scored the lone goal for the suddenly slumping Sabres, who dropped to 2-4-1 in their past seven, and have two wins in their past eight home games (2-5-1).
Hurricanes 6, Thrashers 3
ATLANTA (AP) - Eric Staal scored two goals and added an assist to help the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Atlanta Thrashers for their second straight win.
Scott Walker, Ryan Bayda, Joe Corvo and Erik Cole also scored for the Hurricanes, who have won eight of 11 since losing at New Jersey on Feb. 9.
Ilya Kovalchuk's 43rd goal, second-most in the NHL, made it 5-3 with 7:43 remaining, but the Thrashers still failed to prevent their winless streak from reaching eight games.
Red Wings 4, Blues 1
DETROIT (AP) - Pavel Datsyuk scored twice to lift NHL-leading Detroit to its second straight win after a 1-8-2 stretch.
Johan Franzen and Brian Rafalski also scored for the Red Wings, and Dominik Hasek made 18 saves.
Erik Johnson got the goal for St. Louis, which has lost seven of its last eight. Manny Legace stopped 28 shots.

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