WASHINGTON – Sidney Crosby had a hand in both early goals as Pittsburgh converted on two of its first three shots Monday night, Chris Kunitz scored twice, and the Penguins beat Alex Ovechkin’s struggling Washington Capitals 3-2.
Crosby finished with his 30th goal and two assists to raise his NHL-leading point total to 87, matching his uniform number. The Penguins beat Washington for the seventh consecutive time and overtook idle Boston for the Eastern Conference’s best record.
The Capitals, who began the day outside of the playoff picture in 10th place in the East, have lost four of their past five games.
The teams play each other again Tuesday at Pittsburgh.
Monday’s game featured the largely uneventful NHL debut of a player Capitals general manager George McPhee likened to the Loch Ness Monster—”We’ve heard of you, but we haven’t seen you”—Russian forward Evgeny Kuznetsov. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound winger was a first-round draft pick in 2010, but has been playing in Russia until now.
KINGS 3, FLAMES 2
CALGARY, Alberta (AP)—Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist to lead Los Angeles to its eighth straight win.
Justin Williams and Trevor Lewis also scored for the Kings.
Mike Cammalleri and Brian McGrattan scored for the Flames, who lost for just the second time in their past nine games at the Saddledome.
Playing in his fourth straight game, rookie Calgary goalie Joni Ortio made 20 saves.
Martin Jones stopped 24 of 26 shots he faced to improve his record in his rookie season with the Kings to 10-4.
ISLANDERS 7, CANUCKS 4
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Matt Martin scored the winner in the Islanders’ seven-goal third period, and New York erased a three-goal deficit in the final frame to beat Vancouver.
Martin made it 5-4 at 10:04 for the third for the Islanders, who reversed a recent trend and rallied late instead of squandering a lead.
Josh Bailey, Ryan Strome, Calvin de Haan, Frans Nielsen, Anders Lee and Cal Clutterbuck also scored for the Islanders, who scored four times in the first 6:22 of the third.
The Islanders tied their team record for goals in a period, matching the mark set in the second period of a 9-4 win over the New York Rangers on Dec. 23, 1978.
Chris Higgins, Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Chris Tanev scored for the Canucks, who lost for the 12th time in 14 games.
Evgeni Nabokov made 20 saves in the win. Eddie Lack stopped 21 shots for the Canucks.
AVALANCHE 3, JETS 2, OT
DENVER (AP)—Matt Duchene scored 2:33 into overtime, and Semyon Varlamov stopped 33 shots to lift Colorado over Winnipeg.
John Mitchell and Andre Benoit also scored for the Avalanche, who have won five of six.
Dustin Byfuglien scored both goals for the Jets.
Duchene knocked in the winner on a scramble in front of the net. Defenceman Tobias Enstrom tried to punch the puck into the corner, but it hit Duchene in the shin and dropped down to his stick. From there, Duchene lifted it over backup goalie Al Montoya.
Duchene has a career-best eight-game point streak.
MAPLE LEAFS 3, DUCKS 1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak each had a goal and two assists, and Toronto celebrated coach Randy Carlyle’s return to Anaheim with a victory.
Paul Ranger scored and Jonathan Bernier made 43 saves as the Maple Leafs opened a five-game trip with their third consecutive victory, leapfrogging Montreal into second place in the Atlantic Division.
Carlyle was back at Honda Center for the first time since the Ducks fired the only coach to lead the franchise to a Stanley Cup title. He got a standing ovation in the first period during a video tribute on the scoreboard.
Corey Perry scored his 35th goal and Frederik Andersen stopped 20 shots in the Ducks’ third straight loss to playoff-bound Eastern Conference teams.
PREDATORS 4, SENATORS 3, OT
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP)—Seth Jones scored at 3:49 of overtime and Nashville defeated Ottawa.
Ryan Ellis broke in alone on goaltender Robin Lehner and Jones was there to bang home the loose puck.
The win allowed the Predators to snap a four-game losing streak.
Nick Spaling, Craig Smith and Eric Nystrom also scored for Nashville.
Jared Cowen, Marc Methot and Jason Spezza scored for the Senators.
Craig Anderson allowed three goals on 29 shots before leaving the game early in the third. Lehner faced 13 shots in relief.
COYOTES 4, LIGHTNING 3, SO
TAMPA, Fla. (AP)—Radim Vrbata scored the lone shootout goal to lead Phoenix past Tampa Bay.
Vrbata beat Ben Bishop with a backhand. Mike Smith stopped all three Lightning shootout shots.
Ondrej Palat got the Lightning even at 3-all on his second goal of the game, coming from the low slot with the Tampa Bay net empty and 37.2 seconds left in regulation. Palat also had an assist.
Brandon McMillan, Martin Erat and Mikkel Boedker scored for the Coyotes, who trailed eighth-place Dallas by one point in the Western Conference.
Tampa Bay, 1-4-2 since the Olympic break ended, also got a goal from Tyler Johnson.