Ovechkin And Mcmichael Each Score Twice As The Capitals Deal The Devils A 6-2 Defeat

Washington Capitals center Connor McMichael (24) celebrates his goal against the New Jersey Devils during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Washington Capitals center Connor McMichael (24) celebrates his goal against the New Jersey Devils during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin and Connor McMichael each scored twice, and the Washington Capitals beat the New Jersey Devils 6-2, boosting their slim playoff chances and dealing their division rivals a tough blow in their pursuit.

Ovechkin's goals give him 838 in his NHL career. He has 16 this season, with eight of them coming over the past eight games to reignite talk of him breaking Wayne Gretzky's record.

Charlie Lindgren made 37 saves, and Dylan Strome and Michael Sgarbossa also scored as Washington won a second consecutive game.

“We knew that we were chasing these guys in the standings, so it was a huge two points for our group," McMichael said. "We’re happy to get the win.”

Washington's offensive outburst came at a bad time for the Devils, who remain four points back of the second and final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and trail third-place Philadelphia by five points. After losing 11 of their past 18 games, they have 27 left in the regular season to complete a return to the playoffs.

“The problem is we got frustrated," Devils captain Nico Hischier said. "Tough loss. It’s a tough loss.”

The Capitals stayed in the race for at least another day. They're two points back of New Jersey but have a brutal upcoming schedule, with four of their next five opponents in playoff position, and may need to play part or all of that stretch without valuable center Nic Dowd, who left after the first period because of an upper-body injury.

“Dowder’s a huge defensive piece on this team, and they’re hard shoes to fill," said McMichael, who assumed some of the responsibilities in the 33-year-old's absence. “But I thought our group did a collective job to step in for him.”

They'll take the win, though, after McMichael scored 39 seconds in, then set a new single-season career high with 10 goals in highlight-reel fashion. He dangled around Devils forward Tomas Nosek inside the blue line, past rookie defenseman Simon Nemec and around goaltender Nico Daws before tucking the puck just inside the right post.

Strome's goal in the third period was his 21st of the season, off a rebound like McMichael's first of the game. He's now two back of tying his career best, set last year.

At the other end of the ice, Lindgren was nearly perfect. Alexander Holtz scored late in the first after a cross-crease pass from Nemec made for a nearly unstoppable scoring chance, and Erik Haula broke through Washington's defense and lifted a backhander past Lindgren late in regulation.

“I think it’s another day in the office for Chucky," McMichael said. “This year, he’s been unbelievable, and a lot of points this year are a credit to him.”

Daws allowed six goals on 26 shots, hours after New Jersey put No. 1 goalie Vitek Vanecek on injured reserve. He shouldered some of the blame, but breakdowns in front played a role.

“We just got outbattled in front of the net,” said defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler, who returned after missing 16 games with a broken foot and was in the penalty box when Ovechkin scored on the power play with 32.5 seconds left. “We’ve got to be harder in the front of the net and don’t give them second chances around the net. I think we can do a better job there.”

UP NEXT

Devils: Host the division-leading New York Rangers on Thursday night.

Capitals: Visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night to open a two-game road trip.

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