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game recap

Holtby ties record with Capitals win against Blues

Gets 48th victory to match Brodeur, Ovechkin scores 50th on hat trick

by Louie Korac / Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Goalie Braden Holtby tied the NHL record for wins in a season, Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick to reach 50 goals for the third straight season, and the Washington Capitals defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-1 at Scottrade Center on Saturday.

Holtby made 19 saves for his 48th win in his 66th game (48-9-7). He tied Martin Brodeur, who was 48-23-7 with the New Jersey Devils in 2006-07. Brodeur, the Blues assistant general manager, was in attendance Saturday.

"It's not an individual thing," Holtby said. "When you come back for alumni things years in the future, you can share it with the same guys that have been a part of it, look back on it together. It will be pretty neat."

Video: WSH@STL: Ovechkin notches 50th goal, gets hat trick

Ovechkin became the first player in NHL history to have three straight 50-goal seasons twice (he also did it from 2007-10) and the third player in NHL history to score 50 at least seven times, joining Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy, who each did it nine times.

"We had some personal achievements, [Ovechkin] and [Holtby] tying Marty," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "Pretty special with Marty here, speaks well of the kind of year [Holtby] has had and the team has had.

"We knew [the Blues] were playing for something tonight. They've had a lot of injuries and we understand all of those things, but we came out with a good effort tonight. It was important for us. We clinched so early, we haven't had a really meaningful game. We've played some great teams, but we needed a win just to get a sense of confidence."

Video: WSH@STL: Tarasenko buries feed in front for 40th goal

The hat trick was Ovechkin's 15th in the NHL, which ties him with Jaromir Jagr for most among active players.

"The guys tried to find me out there," Ovechkin said. "I just have to put it in. It's harder and harder to score goals in this League, so I'm excited.

"... I knew right away in the first period I had a chance to score another one. It was a special moment."

The Blues (49-24-9) had a chance to win a second consecutive Central Division title and clinch the top seed in the Western Conference. The Blues and Dallas Stars were tied with 107 points each, but the Stars, who would have won the tiebreaker, defeated the Nashville Predators 3-2 moments after the loss.

Video: WSH@STL: Ovechkin one-times it to tie the game

"We didn't invest," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We didn't look at [Saturday], we looked at Wednesday (when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin). That's how we played. We didn't invest.

"I don't think it matters now. Wednesday's the day and that's what we've got to get ready for."

The Blues will play the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference First Round; the Stars will play the Minnesota Wild.

The Capitals learned earlier Saturday they will play the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Video: WSH@STL: Ovechkin blasts it home for his 49th goal

John Carlson had a goal and assist, Jason Chimera scored, and Nicklas Backstrom had three assists for the Capitals (56-17-8), the Presidents' Trophy winners and No. 1 seed in the East.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored for St. Louis, and Brian Elliott made 22 saves. Elliott, whose Blues-record 11-game winning streak ended, was replaced for the third period by Anders Nilsson, who made nine saves.

Ovechkin's 50th came off a Backstrom pass for a one-timer that beat Nilsson at 10:35 of the third period, but he was more excited to help Holtby get to Brodeur's record.

Video: WSH@STL: Carlson gives the Capitals a two-goal lead

"We tried to play for him," Ovechkin said. "Happy for him, he deserves it."

Trailing 1-0 on Tarasenko's 40th goal, Ovechkin scored Nos. 48 and 49 in a 2:45 span in the first period. He tied it 1-1 after Backstrom found Carlson in the slot and the defenseman passed to Ovechkin in his favorite spot in the left circle for a slap shot goal at 4:04.

He put Washington up 2-1 after Backstrom won an offensive-zone faceoff to Ovechkin, who took a stride to the high slot and beat Elliott with a wrist shot at 6:49.

Tarasenko put the Blues ahead 1:15 into the game on a wrist shot from the slot through Holtby's five-hole to become the first Blues player to score 40 goals in a season since Brad Boyes had 43 in 2007-08.

"We got that early goal and I think we kind looked like we fell into a bit of a trap thinking it was going to be like last game (a 4-0 win at Washington on March 26)," Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "And they had a lot of energy after that and they seemed to take over the game. That's the team we thought we were going to see in Washington, and they played a heck of a game."

Video: WSH@STL: Chimera notches 20th goal of season

The Capitals scored twice in the second period to take a 4-1 lead. Carlson scored on a backhand from the slot at 5:21 off a Tom Wilson pass, and Chimera's 20th goal came on a backdoor pass from Evgeny Kuznetzov at 10:56. The Capitals are 37-0-1 when leading after two periods.

Washington completes its regular season Sunday at home against the Anaheim Ducks. Prior to the weekend, it was expected that backup goalie Philipp Grubauer would play one of the two games.

"[It] has not even crossed my mind," Trotz said. "We'll see. There's reasons. … To me the most important thing is not putting [Holtby] at risk and be ready for the playoffs."

Holtby said if it's his call, he's playing.

"I would love to play every game," he said, "but I don't make those decisions."

Video: Ovechkin, Holtby lead Capitals to 5-1 win over Blues

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