Caps put lid on Habs

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WASHINGTON – Dainius Zubrus and Alexander Semin each scored twice, Alex Ovechkin had three assists, and the Washington Capitals ended their five-game losing streak by beating the Montreal Canadiens 5-1 Thursday night.

Zubrus put Washington ahead 2-1 in the first period with two goals in less than 21/2 minutes – both with help from reigning rookie of the year Ovechkin – and Lawrence Nycholat and Semin scored 56 seconds apart in the second period.

That was it for Canadiens goalie Cristobal Huet, who was yanked 8:48 into the second period and cracked his stick across his knee after leaving the ice. Huet came into the game leading the NHL with a .930 save percentage, but he allowed four goals on 19 shots before giving way to David Aebischer.

Coyotes 2, Hurricanes 0

RALEIGH, N.C. – Curtis Joseph made 29 saves in his second straight shutout and the Phoenix Coyotes beat the slumping Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Thursday night.

Yanic Perreault and Ed Jovanovski each scored to lead the Coyotes to their season-best fourth straight win.

It was the 49th shutout and the 438th victory of Joseph’s 17-year career. He surpassed Hall of Famer Jacques Plante for sole possession of fifth place on the NHL’s career wins list, and followed his 8-0 victory over San Jose last week with another perfect performance.

Next up for CuJo: Terry Sawchuk, who’s fourth with 447 wins.

Cam Ward stopped 26 shots for the Hurricanes, who were shut out for the second consecutive game and sixth time this season, at times drawing boos from the RBC Center crowd when they couldn’t manage a shot on goal during a third-period power play.

Rangers 3, Flyers 2

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NEW YORK – Martin Straka’s sixth NHL hat trick pushed him over the 20-goal mark for the sixth time and carried the streaking New York Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.

Straka scored in each period for the roller-coaster Rangers, who are back on an upswing. They have won three straight following a seven-game losing streak that came on the heels of a season-high, five-game victory spurt.

Straka gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead and finished his first hat trick since last March 29 with an unassisted breakaway goal that made it 3-1 with 13:06 left. Straka who flashed a wide smile and fist pumps after each tally brought dozens of hats raining to the ice after his 21st goal.

Philadelphia had its longest winning streak of the season end at three despite the first goal of the season by Eric Meloche. The Flyers, 3-2 on their eight-game road trip, are last in the NHL with 11 wins.

Robert Esche had won three straight for the Flyers – following the team’s record 10-game losing streak – while making at least 40 saves in each. His workload dipped to 26 saves in this one.

Devils 4, Islanders 3

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Zach Parise scored two goals and Martin Brodeur made 40 saves to lead the New Jersey Devils to a 4-3 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

Sergei Brylin and Patrik Elias also scored for the Atlantic Division-leading Devils, who have won four of their last five.

Trent Hunter, Andy Hilbert and Mike Sillinger got goals for the Islanders, who are mired in a season-high five-game losing streak.

Parise and Brylin scored 15 seconds apart to stake the Devils to a 2-0 lead early in the first period.

Travis Zajac forced a turnover in the Islanders zone and fed the puck to the slot where Parise beat Rick DiPietro with a backhander at 1:57.

Brylin, set up by Jay Pandolfo, immediately followed with a goal.

Lightning 3, Wild 2

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Martin St. Louis and Vincent LeCavalier scored goals for Tampa Bay, which ended Minnesota’s eight-game home winning streak with a 3-2 victory on Thursday night.

Defenseman Dan Boyle also scored for the Lightning, who won for only the second time in five games and improved to 6-10-1 in their last 17. Marc Denis stopped 29 shots to contribute toward the rare road-team victory at Xcel Energy Center, where the Wild have an NHL-high 17 wins.

Mark Parrish kept up his quality play for Minnesota with a second-period goal, and he nearly tied it with about four minutes remaining on a shot from the circle that hit the post.

Pavol Demitra scored in the third period off a rebound of Mikko Koivu’s shot.

The Parrish-Demitra-Koivu line, one reason why the Wild have been extra cautious about bringing standout Marian Gaborik back from his groin injury until he’s fully conditioned, peppered Denis down the stretch and clearly made him work for the victory.

Former Minnesota defenseman Filip Kuba, an All-Star game selection in 2004, had a three-game goal streak end for Tampa Bay.

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