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Alex Ovechkin scores 49th goal, claims another Rocket Richard Trophy

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Alex Ovechkin came close, but fell one goal short of hitting 50 for the seventh time in his NHL career. In the process, he’ll claim his seventh career Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals scored. No other player has won the award more than twice since it was introduced during the 1998-99 season.

The Washington Capitals captain tallied twice during a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils Saturday night. After needing just 2:21 into the game to score his 48th of the year, Ovechkin added No. 49 minutes into the third period.

There were plenty of opportunities for Ovi to grab his 50th, but he couldn’t capitalize, including on a third period breakaway and a late power play chance for the Capitals.

2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Schedule, Bracket, Streams and More

The second goal was Ovechkin’s 102nd career game-winning goal, passing Jarome Iginla (101) for sole possession of eighth place on the NHL’s all-time list.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Capitals best Penguins, clinch third straight Metro Division title

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The Washington Capitals clinched their third straight Metropolitan Division title with a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins Sunday night.

Philipp Grubauer, who’s been tremendous while giving head coach Barry Trotz something to think about as the playoffs approach, made 36 saves, including a couple of beauties in the third period to keep the Penguins at bay.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

T.J. Oshie opened the scoring 6:25 into the game and extended his point streak to five games. Pittsburgh tested Grubauer, firing 26 shot his way in the opening 40 minutes, but he denied them all. Dmitry Orlov would double the Capitals’ lead late in the second period with his 10th of the season.

The Penguins have five wins this season when trailing entering the third period, and coupled with their personnel, they had to be feeling confident that they could find a way to solve Grubauer over the final 20 minutes. That confidence was short-lived as Tom Wilson, via a great deflection, needed just 23 seconds to extend their lead to 3-0.

Playing on Washington’s top line with Alex Ovechkin, Wilson is experiencing a career season with 14 goals and 34 points, 32 of them coming at even strength.

Patric Hornqvist would ruin Grubauer’s shutout attempt with a goal four minutes from time. Then, since these two are hated rivals, things began to boil over. Evgeni Malkin was ready to fight the entire Capitals team.

Penguins assistant coach Mark Recchi was also given the heave-ho after chirping the officials.

This is the last meeting between these two teams in the regular season, but the bad blood will not be forgotten should they see one another yet again sometime in the next month.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues on Sunday as the Washington Capitals visit the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here. 

CAPITALS
Alex OvechkinEvgeny KuznetsovTom Wilson
Andre BurakovskyNicklas BackstromT.J. Oshie
Jakub VranaLars EllerDevante Smith-Pelly
Chandler StephensonJay Beagle – Brett Conolly

Michal KempnyJohn Carlson
Dmitry OrlovMatt Niskanen
Brooks OrpikJakub Jerabek

Starting goalie: Philip Grubauer

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

[Ovechkin, a durable ‘Russian machine,’ reaches 1,000 games]

WATCH LIVE – 7:30 p.m. ET

PENGUINS
Jake GuentzelSidney CrosbyBryan Rust
Carl HagelinEvgeni MalkinPhil Kessel (game time decision)
Conor ShearyRiley SheahanPatric Hornqvist
Zach Aston-ReeseJosh JoorisTom Kuhnhackl

Brian DumoulinKris Letang
Olli MaattaJustin Schultz
Matt HunwickJamie Oleksiak

Starting goalie: Matt Murray

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Sean Leahy is a writer forPro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Kuznetsov scores OT winner as Capitals down Rangers

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The Washington Capitals have chosen a fine time to get hot.

The Caps entered Wednesday with a five-point cushion on the top spot in the Metropolitan Division thanks to a four-game winning streak coupled with eight wins in their last 10 contests.

And by nights’ end, those numbers both increased to seven, five and nine of their past 10, respectively, after a late comeback to force overtime and a quick winner in the extra frame in a 3-2 win against the New York Rangers on Wednesday Night Rivalry, sweeping the home-and-home series.

Indeed, the Caps needed a big goal late to thwart what was looking like a 2-1 decision going New York’s way.

But Lars Eller was having none of that, producing the tying goal with 65 seconds remaining in regulation.

Eller’s goal forced overtime, and if Henrik Lundqvist didn’t appear properly defeated on Eller’s late equalizer, he sure did after Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s winner just 38 seconds into free hockey.

Who could blame him? Kuznetsov’s goal was a stunner and reversed the Rangers fortunes before they could catch their breaths.

The Capitals didn’t look especially special on the night but did what needed to be done to pick up the win. Braden Holtby, who has struggled in a mighty was lately, turned aside 35 of 37 shots for the win — just the second time he’s allowed two goals or fewer since Feb. 9.

The charity point and the loss meant nil to the Rangers, who are already eliminated from the playoffs.

But rookie Lias Andersson picked up his first NHL assist, two nights after picking up his first NHL goal in a 4-2 loss to the Caps.

New York’s season has turned into an evaluation camp for their final few games.

Andersson saw 12:20 of ice-time while fellow rookie Filip Chytil played 14:40, ending with a minus-1 and four shots on goal.

Washington can clinch a playoff spot providing the Philadelphia Flyers lose in any fashion to the Colorado Avalanche.

Currently, Philly is leading 2-1 in the second period.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

NHL on NBCSN: Ovechkin continues pursuit of 50 as Capitals visit Rangers

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues on Monday night with the Washington Capitals visiting the New York Rangers. You can catch all of the action at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN or on our Live Stream.

The Washington Capitals have an opportunity to tighten their hold on the top spot in the Metropolitan Division on Monday night.

The Caps, winners of three straight, sit three points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and will use up their game in hand over the Penguins, who are idle on Monday.

The focus of this one could shift to Alex Ovechkin and his pursuit of the 50-goal plateau. Ovi comes into the game sitting on 44 goals, six back of the milestone. With seven games remaining, it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

The Great 8 hasn’t scored in this past two games, and he’s one goal ahead of Winnipeg Jets sniper Patrik Laine in the Rocket Richard race.

“Everything is in my hands,” Ovechkin told the Washington Post on Sunday about the race to 50. “Of course as you get closer and closer, you want to get it done.”

If Ovi can do it, he’d become just the third player in NHL history with eight seasons of 50 goals or more, joining Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky.

For Ovi to go on a late-season run, as the Post’sIsabelle Khurshudyan pointed out, would also go a long way to helping the Caps keep up their winning ways in the final two weeks of the season.

[NHL Playoff Push: Panthers, Avalanche in search of key wins Monday]

The Rangers aren’t making the playoffs, so the rest of the season is a chance to give their future some NHL looks.

To that end, New York called up first-round picks Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Sunday, with the New York Post reporting that the duo will play out the rest of the regular season in the Rangers lineup.

“I think I’ve improved my game,” Chytil told NYRangers.com. “Everything is different here than in Europe. I’ve had to adjust my style for the U.S. It didn’t take so long, so I’m glad. All season has been very good for me. I’m learning in every game, so that’s most important.”

Andersson joined Hartford after playing with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League this season but an injury brought him to New York to rehab. Once healed, he didn’t return to his native Sweden, opting to head to the AHL.

“I’m more confident now than I was just a month ago,” Andersson told the team’s website. “It’s getting better and better every day.”

The duo could make some history if both are in the lineup on Monday.

Per the Rangers:

If both Andersson and Chytil play, they’d become the first pair of teenagers to play in the same game with the Rangers since Dec. 19, 1974 (Dave Maloney, who was playing in his second career NHL game, and Ron Greschner).


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck