Best of NHL: Alex Ovechkin's hat trick leads Caps over Blues, 4-3

Best of NHL: Alex Ovechkin's hat trick leads Caps over Blues, 4-3

WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin scored his first hat trick of the season and the 16th of his 10-year NHL career to lead the Washington Capitals over the St. Louis Blues 4-3 on Wednesday night.

Ovechkin had a goal in each period to move one hat trick ahead of Florida's Jaromir Jagr for the most among active players. The three-time MVP, who has 12 goals this season, led the Capitals to their third win through four games of a five-game homestand.

Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist for Washington, which outshot St. Louis 25-21 and held a lead throughout the final two periods.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice and Alex Pietrangelo added a late goal for the Blues, who had won four straight (see full recap).

Crosby sparks five-goal second period, Pens top Rangers, 6-1
NEW YORK -- Sidney Crosby had two goals and an assist during a five-goal second period and the Pittsburgh Penguins shut down the division-leading New York Rangers in a 6-1 rout on Wednesday night.

The Penguins held New York without a shot on goal over 23:59 spanning the second and third periods. Scott Wilson, Conor Sheary, Phil Kessel and Matt Cullen also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray had 16 saves.

The Penguins moved two points behind New York for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Rangers won at Pittsburgh 5-2 on Monday behind a breakout second period. The Penguins exacted revenge Wednesday in nearly the exact same fashion.

Pittsburgh trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes, but then the defending Stanley Cup champions took control, chasing Henrik Lundqvist after four goals on 17 shots (see full recap).

Cammalleri has four points in return in Devils' shootout win
NEWARK, N.J. -- Mike Cammalleri had four points in his return to the lineup and Jacob Josefson scored in the shootout as the New Jersey Devils beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 on Wednesday night.

Cory Schneider stopped all three Toronto attempts in the tiebreaker, and the Devils overcame an early 3-0 deficit to snap a three-game losing streak, their longest of the season.

Cammalleri had a goal and three assists after missing six games. He spent more than a week with his family after his 5-year-old daughter was hospitalized with pneumonia.

Travis Zajac, Beau Bennett and Yohann Auvitu also scored for New Jersey.

Top draft pick Auston Matthews had two goals and set up another by Nazem Kadri in Toronto's big first period. Matt Martin also scored, and Jhonas Enroth made 26 saves.

Capitals reclaim sole possession of Metro lead

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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).

Alex Lyon can save the Flyers' season

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Alex Lyon can save the Flyers' season

Lost amid the Flyers’ 5-3 defeat at the hands Blue Jackets on Thursday was yet another stellar relief appearance in goal from Alex Lyon.

Lyon was sensational after replacing Petr Mrazek between the pipes early in the second period, stopping all 18 shots that came his way. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol praised the rookie netminder for giving his team an opportunity to come from behind.

“He’s a battler, and that’s what we asked from him last night going into that situation,” Hakstol said following Friday’s practice.

“You need to have a mindset of going in there and absolutely slamming the door to give your team a chance to win. In order to do that, you have to have a real battling mentality, and I thought he had that right from when he stepped in the net.”

Success in a sort of stopper role has become increasingly commonplace for Lyon since joining the Flyers.

Lyon came off the bench to make five saves during the final eight minutes of a 5-3 loss to the Capitals in his January debut. The 25-year-old later earned his first NHL win against the Rangers in February, blocking 25 of 26 shots over the second and third periods to help procure a 7-4 victory.

His play has been on the rise ever since. Lyon appears to be improving with experience, posting a 2-1-0 record with a .939 save percentage in his last four games.

“I don’t know if I’d say confidence so much as comfortability,” Lyon said of his growth. “I think I always had the confidence in myself that I could do it. It’s just you have to get comfortable enough to kind of believe that.”

He shined as a substitute goaltender all along. Including his performance against the Blue Jackets, Lyon has amassed a .980 save percentage in three relief appearances — a number emblematic of his season.

Lyon began 2017-18 as the emergency-goalie-in-waiting at Lehigh Valley. He earned the call-up to the Flyers’ main roster after the injury to Brian Elliott, then saw an uptick in ice time due to Michal Neuvirth’s subsequent maladies.

The club traded for Petr Mrazek after Neuvirth went down, but Lyon still finds himself in the mix. He’s expected to start against the Hurricanes on Saturday — a pivotal contest for the Flyers’ bid to make the playoffs.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Lyon said. “This is what you think about when you’re a little kid.

“It’s not quite the same, but down in Allentown we were in a pretty hot playoff race last year and always at the top of the standings, so I’m going to draw on my past experiences.”

Elliott returned to the ice this week and could be back in uniform soon, at which time Lyon will be sent back to the minor leagues. But if the Flyers do manage to reach the postseason, his fill-in contributions will have played a big part.

Perhaps Lyon will even warrant a closer look for a full-time spot on the Flyers’ roster next season.