WASHINGTON (AP) -Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 63rd goal and got all sorts of help Tuesday night in Washington's 4-1 victory over Carolina, a result that left the teams tied atop the Southeast Division at 90 points with two games to go in the regular season.
Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich and Matt Cooke scored before Ovechkin's insurance goal, Sergei Fedorov and Mike Green contributed two assists apiece, and Cristobal Huet made 21 saves. Add it all up, and the Capitals were able to celebrate a five-game winning streak for the first time since March 2001. They've also won nine of their past 10 games.
Washington ranked 30th of 30 NHL teams in late November, about a quarter of the way through the season, when minor league coach Bruce Boudreau replaced the fired Glen Hanlon. And Washington still stood only 14th of 15 Eastern Conference clubs at the season's halfway point.
Now, though, the Capitals have a chance to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season, sitting one point out of eighth place in the East. If they can pass the Hurricanes - as of now, Carolina holds the tiebreaker advantage - the Capitals would win their first division championship since 2000-01.
Canadiens 2, Senators 0
OTTAWA (AP) - Carey Price made 32 saves for his third shutout and Alex Kovalev scored his 35th goal as Montreal claimed its first division title in 16 years.
Mathieu Dandenault and Andrei Kostitsyn also scored for Montreal, which secured the Northeast Division title with 100 points.
The Canadiens have as many points as Pittsburgh, which leads the Eastern Conference by virtue of its 45 wins, one more than Montreal.
The sixth-place Senators have a one-point lead over Boston and Philadelphia, who currently hold the final two playoff spots in the conference. Ottawa is also only two points ahead of ninth-place Washington.
Martin Gerber made his 15th straight start for the Senators, stopping 24 shots.
Devils 2, Islanders 1, OT
UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) - Zach Parise deflected in Johnny Oduya's shot 29 seconds into overtime for New Jersey, which clinched an Eastern Conference playoff berth.
The Devils strengthened their hold on fourth place in the East and stayed alive in the race for the Atlantic Division title. Anything other than a win by New Jersey, would have given the crown to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
New Jersey trails Pittsburgh by five points with three games to play, and has a two-point edge over the New York Rangers in the East chase.
Parise won it with the Devils' 47th shot at Islanders third-string goalie Joey MacDonald. Oduya also had the primary assist on Patrik Elias' second-period goal that got New Jersey even at 1.
Martin Brodeur stopped 21 shots for his 42nd victory over the season, allowing only a goal to Josef Vasicek in the first period.
Predators 4, Blues 3
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Rich Peverley scored 1:43 into overtime to complete Nashville's comeback from a three-goal deficit.
Nashville also got goals from Brandon Bochenski, Jordin Tootoo, Vernon Fiddler after falling behind 3-0 early on. The Predators earned two valuable points and jumped ahead of Vancouver into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, Tge Canucks played Colorado later Tuesday.
Andy McDonald, David Perron and Jamal Mayers scored for the Blues, who scored three times in the game's first 7 minutes.
Sabres 4, Maple LEafs 3
TORONTO (AP) - Maxim Afinogenov scored the winning goal in the shootout and Buffalo preserved its slim playoff hopes.
Buffalo is now three points behind the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins. The Sabres have two games remaining - at Montreal on Thursday and at Boston on Saturday.
Afinogenov, in the sixth round of the shootout, faked right and shot left against Toronto goalie Andrew Raycroft.
Panthers 3, Thrashers 2
ATLANTA (AP) - Jay Bouwmeester and David Booth scored 17 seconds apart early in the third period and Florida held to end a three-game losing streak.
The Thrashers made it 3-2 with 3:12 left when Mark Recchi scored his 14th goal.
Atlanta rookie winger Jordan LaVallee scored his first NHL goal in his second game, tying it at 1 at 13:09 of the second period.
Olli Jokinen's power play goal gave Florida a 1-0 lead in the first period.

Top NHL Public Bets

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Lightning vs. Blackhawks Pick Are the Tampa Bay Lightning going to rebound from a couple recent setbacks to win at the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at...
Thumbnail Lightning vs. Wild Pick Are the Minnesota Wild going to secure a big home win tonight when they clash with the Tampa Bay Lightning...
Thumbnail Maple Leafs vs. Flyers Pick Do the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs have what it takes to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers...

NHL Team Pages