Best of NHL: Ovechkin ties Richard on goal list in Capitals' win

Best of NHL: Ovechkin ties Richard on goal list in Capitals' win

MONTREAL -- Alex Ovechkin tied Canadiens great Maurice "Rocket" Richard with his 544th career goal and had two assists, leading the Washington Capitals to a 4-1 victory over Montreal on Monday night for their sixth straight win.

Ovechkin, who has won the Maurice Richard Trophy as the league's goal-scoring leader six times, tied Richard for 29th place on the NHL's all-time scoring list. His three points moved him with one of 1,000.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Brett Connolly and Nicklas Backstrom also scored for Washington, and Braden Holtby finished with 22 saves. Holtby's career-best shutout streak ended at 169 minutes 12 seconds when Tomas Plekanec scored at 7:18 of the third period.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz worked his 1,400th regular season game, tying Pat Quinn for eighth place all time and picked up his 684th win, tying Quinn for sixth. Trotz is now one behind Ron Wilson for seventh place with 1,401 games coached (see full recap).

Luongo records 73rd shutout in Panthers' win
NEWARK, N.J. -- Roberto Luongo made 28 saves for his 73rd career shutout, leading the Florida Panthers to a 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils on Monday night.

Luongo, tops among active goalies in shutouts, got his first of the season to move three behind Ed Belfour and Tony Esposito for ninth all-time. Retired Devils great Martin Brodeur holds the NHL record with 125.

Reilly Smith, Jussi Jokinen and Vincent Trocheck scored for Florida, which won for the third time in five games.

New Jersey was shut out for the third time this season, and for the first time at home since a 1-0 loss to Washington last March 25th. Cory Schneider finished with 26 saves for the Devils, who lost their third straight (see full recap).

Hellebuyck, Jets blank Flames
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Connor Hellebuyck made 28 saves for his third shutout of the season as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Calgary Flames 2-0 on Monday night.

Dustin Byfuglien and Blake Wheeler scored for the Jets, winners of three of their last four games. Hellebuyck now has five shutouts in his two-year NHL career.

Chad Johnson stopped aside 25 shots for the Flames, who had won five of their previous seven.

The Jets were playing for the first game since rookie star Patrik Laine was lost indefinitely due to a concussion suffered in Saturday's 4-3 loss to Buffalo.

Drew Stafford took Laine's spot on the top line with center Mark Scheifele and right wing Nikolaj Ehlers, a trio that spent some time together last season (see full recap).

Flyers focused on actual game instead of Stadium Series event

Flyers focused on actual game instead of Stadium Series event

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The toughest challenge for the Flyers this weekend might be themselves.

They’re playing the Pittsburgh Penguins outdoors on Saturday as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series event. That should be a big deal.

Yet, given their circumstances right now, how can they possibly enjoy the moment?

Maybe had this game been played in early January, before the team hit a crisis point in the standings, and was winning, it would be easier to relax.

The fact is, the Flyers have lost seven of their last 10 games, are drifting as the 11th team in the Eastern Conference, and the second wild card they held for so long seems far from their reach.

Tough to have fun and soak up the atmosphere when there’s so much pressure to start making up ground in the playoff hunt.

“Yeah, we’re there to have two points,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said Thursday. “If this was earlier in the season, we could take it in a bit more, but it’s all business for us right now. It’s just playing.”

That attitude extends right up to coach Dave Hakstol, who didn’t break a smile when talking about what’s really important here.

His team is desperate for points. There are 22 games left in the regular season and 19 are against Eastern Conference opponents.

The Flyers need to win a bunch of games and get hot like they did last season in March if they are going to recapture a wild-card berth.

“Honestly, it’s business first,” Hakstol said. “There is something to the event and certainly something important with family and the type of event it is. But, let’s be honest. Right now, it’s business first. That’s what our focus will be.

“Points. Simple as that. It’s two points. We need the two points and it’s a road game and it happens to be in an event-type situation.

“So we’ve got to make sure we handle all of that in terms of our preparation. But the bottom line is it comes down to the two points that are at stake on Saturday night.”

Michal Neuvirth will make his sixth consecutive start in goal for the Flyers. He was a backup to Semyon Varlamov at Heinz Field during the 2011 Winter Classic as a member of the Washington Capitals against Pittsburgh.

“We’ve got to focus on the game,” Neuvirth said. “There is going to be a lot of distractions. Lot of families and friends in town. But we’re gonna go there and it’s all about business and trying to get the two points.”

Hakstol is only slightly concerned about the hype taking away from the players’ focus. If the Flyers were coming into this game on a win streak, he and his players wouldn’t be quite as uptight as they are right now.

You can cut the tension in the Flyers' dressing room these days with a skate blade.

“You need a little mental attention to detail there,” Hakstol said. “That’s what it is. We’re in that mold. I don’t think that’s a big hump to overcome. I think we’ll be OK.”

Heinz Field holds 68,000 people. The NHL expects 60,000 in attendance. Regardless, it will be the largest crowd ever to witness a Flyers game.

“It’s more exciting and a must-win for us,” said Michael Raffl, who played outdoors once in Europe. “A huge game no matter where we would have played it. We could play it at Skate Zone and we’d be excited.”

Giroux said it will be “weird” being on the ice because his past experiences in outdoor games saw him drown out the fans as much as possible. Yet he admitted the sheer number of fans this time might make that difficult to do.

“It’s pretty exciting to play in the Steelers' stadium,” he said. “Playing against Pittsburgh, it should be a great game.”

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).