WASHINGTON (AP) — One trend is clear in this season’s edition of the Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins rivalry: The Capitals are very good at getting the last word.
Mike Knuble scored the decisive goal in the fourth round of the shootout Wednesday night, giving the Capitals a 4-3 victory over their biggest nemesis.
Alexander Semin and Eric Fehr scored about 2 minutes apart early in the third period to give Washington the lead before Jordan Staal’s goal with 3:06 remaining in regulation sent the game into overtime.
The Capitals have won all three meetings against the Penguins this season, outscoring Pittsburgh 8-1 in the third period and overtime. They pulled this one off with only one point from Alex Ovechkin — an assist on Knuble’s second-period goal — as they won for the eighth time in 11 games and increased their already mammoth lead atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Ovechkin did score one of the Washington’s shootout goals, along with Semin. Kris Letang and Sidney Crosby scored for Pittsburgh in the first two rounds shootout, but Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz had their attempts stopped by Jose Theodore.
Theodore made 39 saves for the Capitals, increasing his club-record streak to 19 games (17-0-2) without a loss in regulation.
With the win, the Capitals tied the franchise record for points in a season (108), set last year.
Rangers 5, Islanders 0
NEW YORK — Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist during a three-goal first period and the New York Rangers began a last-ditch push for an unlikely playoff spot with a 5-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
After losing three straight, including a devastating 2-1 loss Sunday at Boston, the Rangers brought a newfound looseness into their fifth meeting of the season with their metropolitan rivals.
Gaborik scored his second of the game and team-leading 39th of the season with 9:16 left in the third, and defenseman Dan Girardi added New York’s second power-play tally of the game with 3:41 remaining to make it 5-0.
The Rangers came out hard and scored three times on 12 shots in the first 8:30 against goalie Dwayne Roloson. The 10th-place Rangers moved within five points of eighth-place Boston, but have only nine games left.
Artem Anisimov got the offense started at 3:12. Gaborik followed 2:33 later and then helped set up defenseman Michael Del Zotto’s power-play tally at 8:30 that made it 3-0. The Rangers held a 12-2 shots edge at that point and went on to outshoot the Islanders 44-27 overall, making it a relatively easy night for goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
It was Lundqvist’s third shutout of the season and the 23rd of his five-year NHL career. He is one win away from his fifth straight 30-win campaign.
The game was the first hockey contest to be shown on 3D television, but it didn’t take high technology to see which team played with more desperation. The Islanders, playing for the first time since an 1-1-1 West Coast trip, are 14th in the 15-team Eastern Conference.
Roloson recovered from his rough start and finished with 39 saves. He kept the Islanders in relative shooting distance by stopping Erik Christensen and Gaborik on breakaways in the second period when the Rangers outshot the Islanders 17-3.
Red Wings 4, Blues 2
DETROIT — Valtteri Filppula scored with 6:49 left and added an empty-net goal, lifting the Detroit Red Wings to a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.
The Red Wings padded their lead to four points over Calgary for the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs with their sixth win in seven games. St. Louis moved a step closer toward being eliminated from the race with its fourth loss in six games.
Detroit’s Jimmy Howard made 30 saves, and former Red Wing Ty Conklin stopped 20 shots.
Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi scored for the Red Wings, 9-2-1 since the Olympic break. Paul Kariya put St. Louis ahead in the first and Jay McClement made it 2-all early in the third.