Best of NHL: Alex Ovechkin reaches milestone in Capitals' win

Best of NHL: Alex Ovechkin reaches milestone in Capitals' win

WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin scored twice to reach and exceed the 1,000-point plateau, leading the Washington Capitals to a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

Becoming the 84th player in NHL history to hit the milestone, Ovechkin put the team on his back as Washington won its seventh consecutive game and snapped Pittsburgh's winning streak at five.

Justin Williams and Nicklas Backstrom also scored, and Braden Holtby made 30 saves.

Ovechkin wasted no time picking up his 1,000th point , beating Marc-Andre Fleury just 35 seconds in for his 20th goal this season. He's the only player to score 20 in every season since 2005-06, his rookie year.

In true Ovechkin fashion, the Russian superstar scored from his spot on the power play in the second period for his 1,001st point.

Evgeni Malkin, who was picked second behind Ovechkin in 2004, and Patric Hornqvist scored for Pittsburgh (see full recap).

Danault, Lehkonen lead Canadiens past Jets
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Phillip Danault and Artturi Lehkonen each scored twice and the Montreal Canadiens dominated the Winnipeg Jets in a 7-4 victory Wednesday night.

Tomas Plekanec and Sven Andrighetto, with his first of the season, also had goals for the Canadiens. Shea Weber had a pair of assists, and Al Montoya, playing against his former team, made 22 saves.

Connor Hellebuyck allowed three goals on seven shots in his sixth straight start before being replaced by Michael Hutchinson late in the first period. Hutchinson stopped 19 of the 23 shots he faced.

Danault and Brian Flynn gave Montreal a 2-0 lead four minutes into the game on the team's second and third shots.

Mark Scheifele scored twice, Mathieu Perreault had a goal and assist and Bryan Little had his seventh of the season for Winnipeg. Drew Stafford added a pair of assists (see full recap).

Panthers hold on to beat Islanders
NEW YORK -- Jason Demers scored the tiebreaking goal early in the second period, Roberto Luongo stopped 29 shots and the Florida Panthers held on for a 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.

Keith Yandle also scored for Florida, which won for the fourth time in six games.

Nick Leddy had the Islanders' goal and Thomas Greiss finished with 22 saves. New York, in the midst of a stretch of seven of eight on the road, lost for the fourth time in five games (1-2-2). The Islanders have managed just one goal in each of their last three games.

The Panthers made their first visit to Brooklyn since losing to the Islanders in the second overtime of the series-clinching Game 6 of the first round of the playoffs last April 24. Florida won the teams' first meeting this season, 3-2 in overtime at home on Nov. 12 (see full recap).

Changes may be in store for struggling Flyers

AP Images

Changes may be in store for struggling Flyers

Flyers coach Dake Hakstol acknowledged a shakeup in the lineup might be on the way after his squad lost for the seventh time in eight games.

“We haven’t done much of that so far, but there’s a chance that we’ll make a change or two in terms of combinations, maybe even in terms of who’s in and who’s out of the lineup,” Hakstol said after Friday’s practice. “It’s too early to say that for sure right now, but we’re looking at a couple different things just to try to change a little bit of the rhythm, change a little bit of the chemistry.”

With only 10 games remaining and the Flyers’ once tight grip on a playoff spot suddenly in jeopardy, Hakstol may not want to wait too long to act.

The Flyers enter a pivotal weekend in third place in the Metropolitan Division, but several teams are nipping at their heels. Their 81 points are tied with the Blue Jackets, who are behind in the standings based on a tiebreaker, followed by the Devils with 80 and the Panthers’ 77.

Not only that, but the Blue Jackets and Panthers are hot, both winning eight of their last 10 contests. The Devils and Panthers also have one and three more games remaining, respectively.

Time is not on the Flyers’ side.

“We’re going to address some things individually as well as team-wise and get pushing in the right direction,” Hakstol said.

Despite their recent tumble in the standings, the Flyers aren’t panicking. Hakstol noted several of the losses have been close, though that’s largely only true of their last three defeats. They’ve played a tough schedule during the ongoing slump, a slate that included the Lightning, Penguins, Bruins, Jets and Golden Knights – all teams with better records.

Plus, the Flyers have been incredibly streaky all season long, a fact not lost on the team captain.

“We’ve been in this position before,” said Claude Giroux. “We got out of it pretty well. We just need to find a way to get out of it and stay on the winning track.”

Prior to their skid, the Flyers had a four-game losing streak sandwiched between a run where they won eight of nine and another where they won 10 of 11. There was also a 10-game winless stretch that spanned from mid-November into the first week of December.

Giroux thinks the Flyers will be fine as long as they continue doing the things that brought them to this point.

“Obviously, we have to be a little bit better in what we’re doing,” Giroux said. “But in talking about our system, I think we just keep doing what we’re doing and just work a little harder and we’ll be more successful.

Having been through cold spells before, it’s safe to say the Flyers won’t be thinking about it once the puck drops.

“Right now it’s about our guys making sure mentally the deck is clear from anything from last night or from the past week and just a real clear mindset on what our next opportunity is here,” Hakstol said.

The Flyers’ next opportunity to snap out of their funk is at the Hurricanes on Saturday.

Capitals reclaim sole possession of Metro lead

USA Today Images

Capitals reclaim sole possession of Metro lead

WASHINGTON — T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and Matt Niskanen scored as the Washington Capitals swept a home-and-home set against the skidding New York Islanders with a 6-3 win on Friday night.

Alex Chiasson had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who hammered the Islanders 7-3 in New York on Thursday. Jakub Vrana's goal gave Washington a 5-1 lead with 9:04 remaining. Lars Eller added an empty-netter, and Braden Holtby made 22 saves.

Washington broke a tie with the idle Pittsburgh Penguins for sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals' four-game winning streak is their longest since taking five in a row from Dec. 28 to Jan. 9.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington's second-leading scorer, left in the second period and did not return after sustaining an upper-body injury, according to the team.

Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson and John Tavares scored for the Islanders, who have lost 10 of 11 (see full recap).

Hoffman lifts Senators over Stars in OT
OTTAWA, Ontario — Mike Hoffman scored at 3:26 of overtime and the Ottawa Senators beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night to win their third game in a row for just the second time this season.

Ottawa won on home ice for the first time since Feb. 17.

Marian Gaborik and Matt Duchene also scored for the Senators (26-33-11), and Craig Anderson made 23 saves.

Tyler Seguin and Tyler Pitlick had the goals for the Stars (38-26-8). Ben Bishop, who stopped 22 shots, made his first start since missing five games with a knee injury sustained March 5 against the Senators. Bishop has a 9-0-4 career record against Ottawa.

Dallas has lost four straight, its longest skid of the season (see full recap).

Predators rally past Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Nashville Predators keep rolling toward the best regular season in franchise history.

Kevin Fiala and Kyle Turris each had a goal and assist in the third period, leading Nashville to a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. Ryan Ellis also scored to help the Western Conference-leading Predators get their 21st road win of the season and improve to 12-0-1 in their last 13 games overall. Pekka Rinne finished with 32 saves.

Nashville, which reached the Stanley Cup Final a year ago after earning the second wild card in the West, has 102 points through 70 games, and needs nine more in its final 12 games to set a new franchise record (see full recap).