Capitals gain with Ovechkin
It's pretty easy to make the case that Alex Ovechkin is one of the NHL's best players, no matter what the All-Star voting says.
And now his Capitals are the best they've ever been through 40 games.
On the day he was left out of the Eastern Conference starting lineup for hockey's midseason showcase, Ovechkin scored a shorthanded goal with a half-minute left in the second period to break a tie and lift host Washington past the New York Rangers, 2-1, last night.
"It's hard for everyone in the league to defend against him," Rangers goalie Steve Valiquette said. "We did the best we could."
Defenseman Mike Green scored on a power play, and Jose Theodore made 21 saves, helping the Capitals extend their winning streak to a season-high six games and improve to 26-11-3, the best start in franchise history.
The Southeast Division-leading Capitals are an East-best 17-1-1 at home, and they have won 11 of their last 12 games overall to move up to No. 2 in the conference, behind the Bruins.
Panthers 6, Penguins 1 - Nathan Horton scored twice and Florida snapped a four-game losing streak and sent host Pittsburgh to its fourth straight loss.
Down, 4-1, late in the second period, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby got into the second fight of his career - going after Brett McLean right off the faceoff in Florida's end. Just a few minutes after he was penalized for a scrum with Gregory Campbell, Crosby was given 19 minutes in penalties for fighting, unsportsmanlike conduct, and instigating.
Flames 3, Predators 2 - Todd Bertuzzi scored with 23.4 seconds remaining in the third period to lead visiting Calgary to its fifth straight win.
With time winding down, Bertuzzi capitalized on a turnover by Nashville defenseman Dan Hamhuis deep in the Predators' zone. Bertuzzi skated toward the net from the right side and snapped a shot by goaltender Dan Ellis.
Red Wings 3, Wild 2 - Chris Osgood made 33 saves through overtime, then two big ones in the shootout in his first game since Dec. 15 to lift Detroit to victory in St. Paul, Minn.
Pavel Datsyuk scored the lone goal in the shootout. Osgood denied Krys Kolanos and Mikko Koivu, and Brent Burns didn't get a shot off before the puck trickled off his stick.
Blues 5, Blue Jackets 2 - Host St. Louis's special teams cooled off Columbus rookie goalie Steve Mason, accounting for all of the goals in its victory.
Keith Tkachuk scored the go-ahead goal in the second period on one of St. Louis's four power-play goals.
Maple Leafs 3, Senators 1 - Alexei Ponikarovsky's go-ahead goal midway through the third period lifted host Toronto over Ottawa.
Hurricanes 3, Lightning 2 - Joni Pitkanen and Justin Williams each had a goal and an assist, and Carolina rallied from an early two-goal deficit for a victory in Tampa.
Oilers 4, Stars 1 - Dwayne Roloson made 38 saves, and host Edmonton snapped a two-game skid in defeating Dallas.
Sharks 5, Islanders 3 - Mike Grier scored two goals in a game for the first time in nearly two years and San Jose beat New York to extend its run of dominance on home ice to 30 regular-season games without a loss in regulation.
Kings 2, Flyers 1 - Rookie Wayne Simmonds had a power-play goal, Patrick O'Sullivan and Dustin Brown scored in the shootout, and Los Angeles beat Philadelphia in Anaheim, Calif.