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Ovechkin stars as Capitals gain

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Associated Press / April 4, 2008

Alex Ovechkin broke Luc Robitaille's NHL season record for most goals by a left wing with his 64th and 65th scores last night as the Capitals improved their playoff chances with a 4-1 victory over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.

The victory pushed the Capitals into eighth place in the Eastern Conference. They're tied with the Bruins in points (92) but Boston holds the seventh spot because it has played fewer games. Idle Philadelphia dropped to ninth (91) in the battle for the eighth and final playoff spot. Meanwhile, the Rangers secured a playoff spot; the Senators won and can secure a berth with a point against the Bruins tonight; and the Sabres - the Bruins' opponent in their finale tomorrow - were eliminated.

The Capitals have only one game left (against Florida tomorrow); the Bruins and Flyers have two.

Ovechkin tied the score - and passed Robitaille - in the first period after the nothing-to-play-for Lightning had stunned the crowd with a goal in the first minute. The 22-year-old Russian gave the Capitals the lead with 12:10 to play with a drive from the top of the left circle and just under the crossbar for his 22d power-play goal, tying Peter Bondra's team record.

"It's a good time for us right now," Ovechkin said. "We have a chance, and we have to keep it going."

The Capitals have won six in a row - their longest winning streak since January 2000 - and 10 of 11. They also notched their 17th comeback victory under coach Bruce Boudreau, who took over a last-place team when Glen Hanlon was fired in November.

Boyd Gordon and Tom Poti added insurance goals late in the third period, and Cristobal Huet made 18 saves for his eighth straight win, the longest streak for a Capitals goalie since Pete Peeters won nine in a row from Jan. 28 to March 3, 1987.

The Lightning lost leading scorer Vincent Lecavalier (shoulder) with 13:15 remaining in the game when he fell awkwardly after a hit by Washington's Milan Jurcina.

Rangers 3, Islanders 0 - Jaromir Jagr scored two power-play goals in a two-minute span of the first period, Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 shots, and the Rangers clinched a playoff berth with a victory at Uniondale, N.Y.

Jagr connected for goals 1:59 apart against goalie Wade Dubielewicz, and Martin Straka pushed the Rangers' lead to 3-0 at 7:39 of the third. Lundqvist earned his 10th shutout of the season.

The Rangers are fifth in the East and still have their sights on the fourth-place New Jersey Devils and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Canadiens 3, Sabres 1 - Bryan Smolinski scored twice and Carey Price came within 8:30 of posting his second straight shutout as host Montreal eliminated Buffalo from the playoff race.

Chris Higgins also scored for Montreal, which is tied with Pittsburgh atop the Eastern Conference with 102 points.

Both teams have one game left but the Canadiens need to finish at least a point ahead of the Penguins to win the conference because Pittsburgh has one more win.

Senators 8, Maple Leafs 2 - Antoine Vermette scored three goals to help visiting Ottawa move within a point of wrapping up a berth.

The Senators, who scored three shorthanded goals, can clinch a playoff spot with at least 1 point when they close out the regular season at home against the Bruins. But Ottawa might have to play without Daniel Alfredsson, who left the game with an upper body injury following a hit by Mark Bell. The Senators also lost forward Mike Fisher to a knee injury earlier in the game.

Red Wings 3, Blue Jackets 2 - Henrik Zetterberg wrapped up the Presidents' Trophy for host Detroit, scoring with 11 seconds left to beat Columbus. With 113 points, the Red Wings are the regular-season points leaders and have home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.

Wild 3, Flames 1 - Marian Gaborik scored two third-period goals to help host Minnesota win and claim its first Northwest Division title in the franchise's seven seasons.

Stars 4, Coyotes 2 - Brenden Morrow scored and added an assist to help visiting Dallas secure fifth place in the Western Conference with a win.

Predators 3, Blues 2 - J.P. Dumont scored the tying goal and assisted on the winner as host Nashville edged St. Louis.

Kings 4, Sharks 2 - Anze Kopitar scored twice in the final 5:38 to lead host Los Angeles over playoff-bound San Jose, handing the Sharks their first regulation loss in 21 games.

Oilers 2, Canucks 1 - Dwayne Roloson made 13 of his 37 saves in the third period, and visiting Edmonton knocked Vancouver out of the playoffs.

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