TORONTO // Alex Ovechkin registered his first hat-trick of the season to guide the Washington Capitals to a 4-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Russian opened the scoring in the first period by tipping home from the blueline and stretched the lead to 2-0 early in the third period with a wrist shot before completing his hat-trick into an empty net.
"They were hard-working goals and I will take them," Ovechkin told reporters. "It's a great building to play hockey in. It's just a good atmosphere. That's how we have to play, go to the net and find some rebounds."
Braden Holtby, in just his just his seventh NHL appearance made 35 saves stifling the Leafs offence and earning his fourth win.
"He played a really good game, give him credit," said the Leafs centre Tyler Bozak, who could not beat Holtby on three great opportunities. "I've heard of him. I knew he was a pretty good goalie but he came out and stoned us pretty good tonight."
Tim Brent gave the Maple Leafs some momentum when he pounced on a bouncing puck in front of the Capitals net to put his team 2-1 behind less than two minutes after Ovechkin's second goal.
Matt Hendricks restored Washington's two-goal lead near the mid-point of the third period on a breakaway, beating Maple Leafs goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere with a great deke to his backhand.
Tomas Kopecky scored twice to help the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
Corey Crawford made 36 saves, while Cory Emmerton scored in his NHL debut to give Detroit the lead midway through the first.
Detroit's Dave Bolland tied it later in the period and Kopecky scored two times in the second against his former team to make it 3-1.
Troy Brouwer also scored for the defending champions Chicago, who are on a 5-0-1 streak.
The Red Wings also found out before the game that the Islanders claimed goaltender Evgeni Nabokov off waivers after he signed a one-year contract with the Red Wings. Nabokov could not pick the place to resume his NHL career after starting the season playing in Russia.
Penguins 3 Hurricanes 2
In Pittsburgh, Dustin Jeffrey, Mark Letestu and Pascal Dupuis scored as Pittsburgh held off Carolina for a win without injured stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Playing a second straight game with their dynamic scoring duo, the Penguins limited Carolina's chances until Sergei Samsonov and Eric Staal scored over the final 4:25 to make things interesting. Crosby missed his eighth consecutive game due to concussion, and Malkin has sat out two because of a sore left knee and a sinus infection.
Bruins 6 Avalanche 2
In Denver, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand each scored twice to help Boston defeat Colorado. Tim Thomas stopped 32 shots and Boston took advantage of two goals going in off skates of Colorado defencemen. Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron also scored for the Northeast Division leaders. Paul Stastny and Kevin Shattenkirk scored for the Avalanche. Bruins centre Marc Savard was hurt on a check into the boards in the second period and did not return. The Bruins did not reveal the extent of the injury.
Ducks 4 Canadiens 3 SO
In Montreal, Bobby Ryan scored in the shoot-out while Jonas Hiller stopped all three Montreal shooters to give Anaheim victory. Ryan, who gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead in the second period, shot past Carey Price on Anaheim's second attempt for the only goal of the tie-breaker. Montreal's Max Pacioretty scored his second power-play goal of the game with 12.6secs remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime. Anaheim centre Saku Koivu made his emotional return to the Bell Centre and the former Montreal captain was called for three penalties.
Rangers 3 Thrashers 2 SO
In Atlanta, Mats Zuccarello scored in a shoot-out to cap New York's comeback win over Atlanta. New York's Brian Boyle scored with five minutes left in regulation to force overtime. Wojtek Wolski had scored in the second period. Anthony Stewart and Nik Antropov had goals for the fading Thrashers, who have lost six of seven.
Kings 4 Coyotes 3
In Glendale Arizona, Justin Williams scored his 18th goal of the season to start an opening flurry that set up Los Angeles' win over Phoenix. The Kings got first-period goals from Williams, Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez. Phoenix, playing without top defencemen Ed Jovanovski and Derek Morris, rallied from a sluggish start with Lee Stempniak's two goals and another by Martin Hanzal to tie it heading into the third. Jarret Stoll scored the Kings' winner five minutes into the third on a diving backhander, and LA held on to end a three-game losing skid.
Blue Jackets 5 Blues 2
In St Louis, Columbus scored five unanswered goals to overwhelm St Louis. Andrew Murray, Rick Nash and Fedor Tyutin each scored in the third period, and the Blue Jackets scored five unanswered goals. Andrew Murray broke a 2-2 tie by deflecting in a shot from the blue line by Jan Hedja at 3:40 of the third period. Rick Nash added a power-play score at 16:32 to give him a team-leading 22 goals this season. Fedor Tyutin scored an empty netter at 18:30. Eric Brewer and Patrik Berglund scored in a span of 1:23 in the first period to give St Louis a 2-0 lead.
Devils 3 Flyers 1
In Philadelphia, Patrik Elias scored two goals to lead improved New Jersey over Philadelphia. Henrik Tallender also scored for the Devils, who have points in a season-high six straight games. The game featured the teams with the highest and lowest point totals in the NHL. But the last-place Devils are coming around. James van Riemsdyk scored the lone goal for the Flyers.