Ovechkin entered the game with five goals in 16 games this season, only good enough to be tied for third on his own team, which began the day with a 5-10-1 record and 11 standings points, the fewest in the 30-team NHL.
But the two-time NHL MVP broke out in a big way, turning in his first three-goal game since a 4-1 victory at Toronto on Jan. 22, 2011.
Ilya Kovalchuk's goal with 37.5 seconds left in the second period tied the game for New Jersey, but Ovechkin put Washington ahead to stay 1:23 into the third.
KINGS 4, AVALANCHE 1
Anze Kopitar also scored and Jonathan Quick made 23 saves for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who won for the fifth time in six games after beginning the day 11th in the Western Conference and two points out of a playoff spot. Last season, the Kings became the first team in history to win the Cup as an eighth seed.
FLYERS 5, JETS 3
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Wayne Simmonds scored a go-ahead goal about halfway through the third period and Philadelphia beat Winnipeg.
Brayden Schenn scored two goals and Claude Giroux added one for the Flyers, who scored three on the power play. Evander Kane, Olli Jokinen and Alexander Burmistrov scored for the Jets, whose road-game winning streak ended at 2.
Flyers left wing Scott Hartnell, who had missed the last 16 games with a broken foot, was a last-minute addition to the team's lineup. Not even his surprise return was enough for the Flyers to hit the ice with any energy. They went a stretch of 9:47 in the opening period without registering a shot on Ondrej Pavelec.
OILERS 3, COYOTES 2, SO
Kyle Chipchura and Mikkel Boedker scored for the Coyotes, who had a two-game winning streak snapped. Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith was excellent with 41 saves, but couldn't stop Eberle and Gagner in the shootout.
RED WINGS 4, PREDATORS 0
Pekka Rinne gave up those three goals on just 17 shots and finished with 23 saves for the Predators. Nashville, playing on consecutive nights, has lost two straight and four of five.
Detroit didn't waste its first 3-0 lead of the season, but instead added to it with Daniel Cleary's goal on a power play midway through the third period.
The Predators had won seven of eight games against Detroit, including last year's first-round playoff series.
CANADIENS 3, RANGERS 0
Each player on the line of Erik Cole, Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller scored a goal and added an assist for Montreal (12-4-2), which bounced back after Thursday's loss to the New York Islanders and won for the sixth time in seven games.
Price's shutout was his second this season. He allowed just one goal in two starts against the Rangers this week.
Martin Biron, in his third start of the season, stopped 15 shots for New York (8-7-2), which dropped its third straight and has just one win in five games.
ISLANDERS 4, SABRES 0
Mark Streit and Michael Grabner broke the game open with goals 65 seconds apart late in the second period. John Tavares and Colin McDonald sealed the win with third-period goals. Matt Moulson added two assists in helping the Islanders (8-9-1) win their second straight and fourth in six games.
Nabokov made 13 saves in the second period and earned his first shutout of the season and 53rd of his NHL career.
The Sabres have lost four in a row and five of six. They are 4-12-1 in their past 17.
This loss came in Ron Rolston's second game as the Sabres' interim coach, and first at home.
LIGHTNING 5, HURRICANES 2
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Steven Stamkos scored and had an assist in Tampa Bay's four-goal third period that lifted the Lightning over Carolina.
Benoit Pouliot, Tom Pyatt and Richard Panik had the other third-period goals for the Lightning, who snapped a first-place tie with the Hurricanes atop the Southeast Division. Marc-Andre Bergeron scored in the first to help Tampa Bay win for the third time in four games following a six-game losing streak.
Mathieu Garon made 32 saves for his second victory of the season. The first came on Jan. 22 against Carolina. Garon has allowed three goals in two games against the Hurricanes and 12 in his other three starts.
STARS 3, SHARKS 1
DALLAS (AP) — Jamie Benn scored a goal and added an assist, and Dallas' struggling power play connected twice in a victory over San Jose.
The Stars, 1-3 in their previous four games, snapped an 0-for-16, power-play skid and scored on consecutive opportunities to take a 2-0 lead early in the third period.
With Kari Lehtonen missing his third straight game because of a groin injury, Nilstorp stepped up to earn the victory.
BLUES 2, BLUE JACKETS 1
ST. LOUIS (AP) — David Perron scored the go-ahead goal midway through the third period and St. Louis ended a five-game home losing streak with a victory over Columbus.
Chris Stewart had a first-period goal for the Blues, outscored 23-9 during an 0-4-1 slump. Perron beat Sergei Bobrovsky from the slot for his sixth goal at 9:51, also the Blues' first shot of the period.
Bobrovsky made 21 saves for Columbus, last in the NHL with 12 points. The Blue Jackets are 1-4 on a six-game road trip that ends Sunday in Chicago.
FLAMES 3, WILD 1
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Matt Stajan scored twice, including the go-ahead goal in Calgary's victory over Minnesota.
Backstrom stopped the initial drive and sprawled to get his pad on Stajan's rebound, but Stajan jammed the puck over the line just inside the post at 7:19.
Looking for a spark, Calgary coach Bob Hartley moved Stajan to the top line, where he centred Iginla and Alex Tanguay, who also scored.
Charlie Coyle, with his first NHL goal, had the lone goal for the Wild, who split their two-game trip through Alberta.
SENATORS 3, MAPLE LEAFS 2
OTTAWA (AP) — Colin Greening batted a puck out of midair for a goal with 24 seconds remaining to give Ottawa a win over Toronto.