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Viktor Kozlov's shootout goal lifts Capitals past Hurricanes 3-2

NHL.com @NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. - Viktor Kozlov scored in the third round of the shootout to lead the Washington Capitals past the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Alexander Ovechkin scored his club-record 61st goal, Alexander Semin also scored and Nicklas Backstrom had two assists for the Capitals, who have won six of seven to threaten Boston for the eighth and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cristobal Huet made 25 saves and stopped Carolina's three shooters. Kozlov then ended the shootout by skating in on Cam Ward and beating him with a wrist shot to his glove side.

Jeff Hamilton and Erik Cole scored power-play goals for Carolina, which picked up a point to strengthen its grip on the Southeast Division lead. The Hurricanes hold a four-point lead with five games remaining.

Ward tied a career high with 42 saves in his career-best 15th straight start for Carolina. Huet improved to 6-2 since he was dealt to Washington at the deadline.

Ovechkin - the league's leading scorer and the first player in 12 years to reach the 60-goal mark - broke Dennis Maruk's 26-year-old club record midway through the second period, a nifty score that broke a 1-all tie. He skated past Cole, took a feed from Backstrom near the right circle and beat Ward with a low wrist shot.

Ovechkin could have scored No. 61 a period earlier, but his redirection skidded across the underside of the crossbar before it detoured away from the net.

Cole tied it at 2-2 late in the second when he went hard toward the net and threw a backhand at the net as he was bumped by defenceman Shaone Morrisonn into Huet. No immediate signal was made by the referee, and after a review of about 5 minutes, Cole was awarded his 22nd goal.

Hamilton had a fluky score on the power play with 14 seconds left in the first. His centring pass clicked off the skate of the Capitals' Boyd Gordon and ricocheted 45 feet through the slot and past Huet, who slid across the net in anticipation of Cole's one-timer and never saw the puck coming.

Notes: Washington improved to 4-4 in shootouts, while Carolina fell to 2-3. ... Semin scored on the power play in the second, giving him three goals in five games. ... Ovechkin has 16 goals in 23 career games against the Hurricanes but scored against them for the first time in three meetings. ... Carolina RW Trevor Letowski had his two-game goal-scoring streak snapped. ... Hurricanes RW Patrick Eaves was scratched with the flu.

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