Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 28th goal, and the Capitals enjoyed a rare feeling of dominance outside their division Tuesday night, winning their eighth straight with a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Washington.
Jack Hillen, Martin Erat, Troy Brouwer, and Marcus Johansson also scored, and Braden Holtby made 29 saves for the Southeast Division-leading Capitals.
The Capitals have moved into playoff position by feasting on the weak Southeast, going 14-3 within the division, but they entered Tuesday’s game just 9-14-2 against the rest of the Eastern Conference. All but two of those nine wins were by one goal.
So it was a major morale boost that they were able to manhandle Toronto, which is closing in on the franchise’s first playoff berth since 2004.
Senators 3, Hurricanes 2 — Craig Anderson made 32 saves to help host Ottawa beat Carolina for its third straight win.
Mika Zibanejad, Cory Conacher, and Chris Neil all scored as Ottawa remained in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, 1 point ahead of the Islanders.
The Senators returned to Ottawa from Boston amid tightened security measures a day after the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Their game against the Bruins, postponed Monday, was rescheduled for April 28.
Islanders 5, Panthers 2 — Michael Grabner scored twice and Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves as New York moved closer to a playoff berth with a victory over Florida.
Playing before a boisterous crowd at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders earned their ninth win in 12 games while playing their final regular-season home game.
With a 14-5-3 mark since March 1, the Islanders hold seventh place in the Eastern Conference. New York, eyeing its first postseason appearance since 2007, has allowed two goals or fewer in nine straight games.
Flyers 4, Rangers 2 — Brayden Schenn, Erik Gustafsson, and Kimmo Timonen scored to give Philadelphia’s faint playoff hopes a boost, and the Flyers beat visiting New York for their second win in two nights.
Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan scored for the Rangers, who have a tenuous hold on the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Rangers have 46 points, 5 more than the Flyers. With five games left, the Flyers have three teams to pass to get above the postseason cutoff.
Blues 2, Canucks 1 — Jay Bouwmeester tied the score midway through the third period and Andy McDonald and Alex Steen scored in the shootout to lead host St. Louis.
Brian Elliott made 21 saves in regulation and stopped Derek Roy and Alexandre Burrows in the shootout, solidifying the Blues’ chances in a tight Western Conference race.
Jets 4, Lightning 3 — Andrew Ladd scored twice in regulation and added the decisive goal in a shootout as Winnipeg stayed in the thick of the playoff hunt with a victory over visiting Tampa Bay.
The Jets are tied in points with the eighth-place Rangers in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Martin St. Louis, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, and Steven Stamkos — with his 27th goal — scored for Tampa.
Sharks 3, Kings 2— Antti Niemi stopped Jeff Carter on a 2-on-1 in overtime and then was perfect in the shootout to help host San Jose move into a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with a victory over Los Angeles.
Wild 5, Oilers 3— Kyle Brodziak scored a pair of goals, and Minnesota earned another late-season win by topping host Edmonton.