Home Team in Caps
Columbus 5, PHILADELPHIA 2 | HIGHLIGHTS
Washington 3, PITTSBURGH 1 | HIGHLIGHTS
NY Islanders 4, CAROLINA 1 | HIGHLIGHTS
NEW JERSEY 2, Buffalo 1 (SO) | HIGHLIGHTS
Florida 3, TORONTO 2 | HIGHLIGHTS
Dallas 4, ST. LOUIS 1 | HIGHLIGHTS
NASHVILLE 5, San Jose 1 | HIGHLIGHTS
ISLANDERS, CAPITALS EARN KEY METROPOLITAN DIVISION POINTS
The New York Islanders and Washington Capitals each earned victories over division rivals to keep pace in the Metropolitan Division, where the top four teams are separated by five points.
* Chad Johnson stopped 37 shots and Brock Nelson scored the game-winner to lift the Islanders to their fourth straight win against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Islanders improved to 19-3-0 against Metropolitan Division opponents. They have won 12 of their last 13 division matchups, the lone setback a 6-5 home loss to the New York Rangers on Monday.
* Johnson was two saves shy of his career high, set on Dec. 12, 2013, when he made 39 saves at the Edmonton Oilers while playing for the Boston Bruins. He improved to 7-7-0 in 16 appearances this season.
* Nelson snapped an 18-game goal drought to extend career highs in goals (16) and points (34). Michael Grabner returned from five-game absence and added his sixth goal of the season.
* Anders Lee scored for the fourth time in his last six games (4-5—9) to move into a tie for second among rookies with 19 goals, one behind League leader Mike Hoffman. John Tavares (1-1—2) and Frans Nielsen (0-2—2) contributed multiple-point efforts.
* Joel Ward broke a 1-1 deadlock with 4:13 left in regulation to lift Washington to its third straight win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Capitals are 6-2-0 in their past eight games. The Capitals continue to occupy the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, but are one point behind the Rangers and Penguins, the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the Metropolitan Division.
* Ward recorded his fourth game-winning goal of the season (58 GP), matching a career high established in 2010-11 (80 GP w/ the Nashville Predators) and equaled last season (82 GP). It was his first career goal in 17 career games against Pittsburgh.
* Alex Ovechkin (1-1—2) added to his League-leading goals total with his 37th of the season. He also reclaimed first place in the NHL with 17 power-play goals.
* Ovechkin recorded his 19th multiple-point game of the season to extend his point streak to five games (5-4—9). He has 21-10—31 in his last 23 games dating to Dec. 29 and is tied for fourth in the NHL with 37-22—59 in 58 GP.
* Braden Holtby made 32 saves, including 14 in the second period, to improve to 5-2-1 in his last eight starts. Holtby has allowed only one goal in three starts vs. PIT this season, following shutouts on Dec. 27 and Jan. 28.
* The Capitals had their shutout streak vs. PIT snapped at 150:23 when Steve Downie found the back of the net at 3:35 of the second period. Prior to that, the last Pittsburgh goal surrendered by Washington was at 14:12 of the third period in a 2-0 loss on March 11, 2014.
RINNE SHINES AS PREDATORS EXTEND STREAKS
Pekka Rinne made a season-high 42 saves, highlight by a flurry of stops in the middle frame, and the Predators scored five unanswered goals to earn their sixth consecutive victory and improve to 8-2-1 against the San Jose Sharks dating to Nov. 5, 2011. The Predators also won their fifth straight game at Bridgestone Arena; they continue to lead the NHL in home wins (25) and home points (51).
* the Predators improved to 39-12-6 (84 points) to widen their lead to six points over the idle Montreal Canadiens (37-15-4, 78 points) and the St. Louis Blues (37-16-4, 78 points) – who lost to the Dallas Stars – for top spot in the overall standings.
* Rinne extended his personal winning streak to five games; he has allowed no more than two goals in each of those contests. He also improved to 15-1-1 with a 2.24 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in his past 17 appearances dating to Dec. 16.
* Rinne leads the League with 34 wins and ranks second in goals-against average and save percentage, behind Carey Price.
* Craig Smith (2-0—2) posted his second straight multiple-point performance and first two-goal outing since Dec. 22 at the Columbus Blue Jackets. He has four game-winning goals this season (57 GP), equaling his career-high, set in 2013-14 (79 GP).
* James Neal became the first Predators player to reach 20 goals this season. He has reached the 20-goal mark in each of his first seven NHL seasons (three times each with Dallas and Pittsburgh). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Neal and James Carson, who did it from 1986-93 with the Los Angeles Kings (2), Edmonton Oilers (1) and Detroit Red Wings (4), are the only players in NHL history to score 20 goals in each of their first seven seasons, while having at least one 20-goal season for three different teams in that span.
* Shea Weber (1-1—2) and Mike Ribeiro (0-2—2) each contributed multiple points for the Predators. Weber shares third among NHL defensemen with 14 goals and is tied for fourth (w/ Erik Karlsson) with 42 points. Paul Gaustad snapped a 46-game drought with his first goal since Oct. 11 vs. DAL.
BENN'S HAT TRICK HELPS STARS INCH CLOSER TO WILD CARD
Jamie Benn had his first career hat trick to power the Stars to a 4-0 lead and their fourth win in their last five outings. Dallas improved to 5-0-2 in their last seven games against the Blues, including four straight wins in St. Louis.
* Benn had the third hat trick by the Stars player this season (Tyler Seguin: Oct. 14 at CBJ and Nov. 8 vs. SJS). Per Elias, Benn is the first player other than Seguin to record a hat trick since Steve Ott had one on March 31, 2010; Seguin has five in that span with Dallas.
* Benn has 6-1—7 during his four-game point streak and ranks second on the club with 22-32—54 in 57 GP. This marks the fifth time in six NHL seasons that Benn has scored at least 20 goals.
* Jason Spezza assisted on all three of Benn's goals to extend his point streak to six games (3-7—10). It marked his third game with at least three points this season (also 1-3—4, Oct. 18 vs. the Philadelphia Flyers and 1-2—3, Feb. 8 at the New York Rangers).
* The Stars scored three goals in the opening 8:38, including scores 20 seconds apart by Benn and Cody Eakin. Eakin shares sixth on the club with 11 goals.
* Kari Lehtonen made 27 saves to stretch his personal winning streak to four games and improve to 4-0-2 in his last six appearances vs. the Blues. Overall, Lehtonen is 12-4-2 in 20 career appearances against the Blues.
AROUND THE RINKS
Highlights from the rest of Tuesday's seven-game schedule:
* Jussi Jokinen, Nick Bjugstad and Jimmy Hayes each found the back of the net to help the Florida Panthers snap a three-game skid and win their fourth straight game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the victory, the Panthers (25-19-12, 62 points) moved within two points of the idle Boston Bruins (28-20-8, 64 points) for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Boston, however, holds the ROW tiebreaker (26-20); the two teams will face off three more times this season (March 21 at FLA, March 31 at BOS, April 9 at FLA). Roberto Luongo stopped 27 shots to snap a personal two-game skid. Jokinen (1-1—2) and Brian Campbell (0-2—2) each contributed multiple points.
* Curtis McElhinney equaled a career high with 42 saves and the Columbus Blue Jackets scored three unanswered goals in the third period – after surrendering a 2-0 lead in the middle period – to improve to 6-1-0 against the Philadelphia Flyers dating to Dec. 21, 2013. Matt Calvert broke a 2-2 deadlock midway through the third period and added an empty-net goal for his second multi-goal performance of the season. Brandon Dubinsky (1-1—2), Ryan Johansen (1-1—2), Alexander Wennberg (0-2—2) and Scott Hartnell (0-2—2) also tallied multiple points for the Blue Jackets; Hartnell has 3-7—10 on his seven-game point streak.
* Scott Gomez and Jacob Josefson scored in the shootout and Cory Schneider stopped 24 shots – plus two more in the tiebreaker – to help the New Jersey Devils snap a four-game skid. Patrik Elias scores New Jersey's lone goal in regulation, as the club improved to 5-0-2 at home against the Buffalo Sabres, dating to Nov. 10, 2010. Stephen Gionta returned from an 18-game absence to face his brother, Brian, for the sixth time in their NHL careers; each brother's team has won three of those contests.
Making his Maple Leafs debut, Olli Jokinen logged 10:37 TOI and one shot against the Panthers. Jokinen spent seven seasons with Florida (2000-08) and holds the franchise records for goals (188), points (419) and game-winning goals (36). …Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom had his 44th assist of the season, extending his League lead. … The Flyers lost in regulation for the first time since Jan. 19, ending their nine-game point streak (6-0-3). … Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds scored to extend his point streak to five games (4-3—7). … Blues defenseman Barret Jackman played in his 780th NHL game (all with St. Louis), surpassing Brian Sutter for second on the franchise's all-time list. … ICYMI: Click here for a recap of the third episode of Road to the NHL Stadium Series, which premiered on Tuesday. … Devils forward Travis Zajac (600) and Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic (300) each played in milestone games.