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game recap

Devils lose to Capitals, fail to climb standings

New Jersey will be second wild card in East; Ovechkin scores 48, 49 in win

by Brian McNally / NHL.com Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 48th and 49th goals, helping the Washington Capitals to a 5-3 win that prevented the New Jersey Devils from improving their position in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the season finale for each team at Capital One Arena on Saturday.

 

[WATCH: All Devils vs. Capitals highlights]

 

The Capitals (49-26-7), who won the Metropolitan Division for a third consecutive season, will play the Columbus Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference First Round.

The Devils (44-29-9) finished as the second Eastern wild card into the playoffs.

"We just have to be a lot better than that, we have to be a lot sharper," said Devils forward Patrick Maroon, who had a goal and two assists. "They're a good hockey team over there, but this was a chance to move up in the standings, and we lost."

Video: NJD@WSH: Backstrom finds twine on top-shelf wrister

New Jersey will play the Atlantic Division winner, either the Tampa Bay Lightning or Boston Bruins, in the first round. Boston will win the division with a win against the Florida Panthers on Sunday.

Ovechkin is in line to win his seventh Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the leading goal-scorer in the NHL. He finished with a game-high eight shots on goal and pushed hard for the hat trick to reach 50 goals.

"Of course it's nice. Of course the end of the season you pay attention to that," Ovechkin said. "Of course you don't want to lose [50] because you have a pretty good chance, but I'm pretty sure right now for us [the] most important thing is the playoffs."

Ovechkin gave Washington a 1-0 lead at 2:21 of the first period when he scored off a cross-ice pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Devils rookie forward Nico Hischier scored his 20th goal at 8:10 of the first period to tie it 1-1 on a feed from Maroon from behind the net.

Nicklas Backstrom gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead with 28 seconds left in the first when he scored off a Brett Connolly pass in front. Michal Kempny scored at 3:44 of the second to extend the lead to 3-1.

Miles Wood scored with 53 seconds left in the second to cut the Capitals lead to 3-2, and Maroon tied it 3-3 at 2:04 of the third.

Ovechkin scored his second goal of the night at 5:11 of the third to make it 4-3, and Andre Burakovsky made it 5-3 at 11:50.

The Capitals spent the final minutes of the game trying to get Ovechkin to 50 goals. They had two late power plays, and Ovechkin was on the ice for 6:04 of the final 8:10.

"We looked for [Ovechkin] a little bit more than usually," Kuznetsov said. "I don't think he's sad about he didn't get 50, but 49 is still a good number."

Video: NJD@WSH: Burakovsky finds twine on Kempny's nice pass

 

Goal of the game

Ovechkin's goal at 5:11 of the third period.

Video: NJD@WSH: Ovechkin nets 49th goal on knuckling slapper

 

Save of the game

Holtby stopping Brian Gibbons at 15:45 of the third period.

Video: NJD@WSH: Holtby stones Gibbons on a partial break

 

Highlight of the game

Ovechkin's goal at 2:21 of the first period.

Video: NJD@WSH: Ovechkin blasts home sizzling one-timer

 

They said it

"We like our matchup against anybody. I think we match up well against anyone. We believe in what we got going on here. We earned the right to be in. It's been a good season. The fun starts now." -- Devils forward Brian Boyle on not knowing who their opponent will be in the first round of the playoffs

 

"The guys on the bench were trying. He must have had 25 shot attempts, and [the Devils] were standing next to him too, so that just tells you how good he is sometimes. I was praying that he would get 50, and everyone on the bench was too. But still, 49 goals, not that many guys in this league can do what he's done." -- Capitals coach Barry Trotz on Alex Ovechkin's attempt to reach 50 goals

 

Need to know

Ovechkin's second goal was his 102nd game-winner in the NHL, passing Jarome Iginla (101) for eighth in NHL history. … Hischier is the eighth rookie to score 20 goals in Devils history. ... Hischier's 52 points are fourth most by a rookie in New Jersey history. ... Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen and forwards Taylor Hall, Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac did not play. Each was rested.

 

What's next

Devils: Game 1 of Eastern Conference First Round, TBD

Capitals: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of Eastern Conference First Round, TBA

 

Video: Ovechkin scores twice to power Capitals to 5-3 win

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