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.
Blackhawks 3, Ducks 0
CHICAGO (AP) - Rookie Corey Crawford stopped 19 shots to earn his first NHL win and shutout in his first start this season for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Dustin Byfuglien and Cam Barker each had power-play goals and an assist, and Patrick Sharp also scored for the Blackhawks, who won their third straight and ended Anaheim's six-game winning streak.
Chicago also ended a five-game losing streak against Anaheim, which got 25 saves from Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Coyotes 2, Stars 1
DALLAS (AP) - Ilya Bryzgalov made 20 saves, and Peter Mueller and Shane Doan each scored goals to lead the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Coyotes have scored just 10 goals in their past seven games, yet have gone 3-3-1 during that span. Bryzgalov preserved the win in the final seconds by turning away a shot by Jere Lehtinen near the net.
Phoenix, which hasn't made the playoffs since 2002, crept within three points of Nashville and Vancouver for eighth place in the Western Conference.
Brad Winchester scored his first goal of the season to bring the Stars within 2-1 late in the second period.
Sharks 3, Senators 2, OT
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Patrick Marleau scored his second goal of the game 3:05 into overtime to lead the San Jose Sharks to their seventh straight win.
The Sharks rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits in the third period, winning for just the third time in 23 games this season when they trailed after two periods.
San Jose made up ground in the Pacific Division on Dallas and Anaheim, which both lost Wednesday night. The Sharks moved one point past the Ducks and within three points of the first-place Stars.
Jason Spezza scored both goals for the Senators, who have lost five of six and fell for just the fourth time in 30 games when leading after two.

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