Raleigh, NC – Alex Ovechkin is getting hot at just the right time and leading the Capitals back into the playoff race.
Ovechkin scored twice and added an assist in Washington's 5-3 win over the slumping Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena on Tuesday.
Mike Green also put in a pair for Washington, while Nicklas Backstrom recorded four assists as the club moved within two points of the Southeast Division- leading Jets with its fifth victory in seven games.
Braden Holtby made 31 saves for the Capitals, who are also three points back of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference.
Jiri Tlusty's first career hat trick went for naught as Carolina fell to 1-8-1 in its last 10 games and fell two points behind the surging Caps.
Dan Ellis, in his first action since suffering a cut near his left knee in a loss to the Devils on March 21, was pulled 4:26 into the second period after allowing three goals on seven shots.
Justin Peters relieved Ellis for the remainder of the game and gave up two goals, including the go-ahead tally by Ovechkin, who has scored in eight of his last nine games and has a nine-game point streak.
Ovechkin broke a 3-3 tie by getting behind the defense and capitalizing on Backstrom's saucer pass for his 20th of the year at the 11:06 mark of the second period.
That goal came off a turnover in the neutral zone, and another giveaway by Carolina resulted in an insurance goal for Washington while on the penalty kill, as Marcus Johansson fed Joel Ward for a perfect re-direct with 45 seconds remaining in the period.
"We gave up too many odd-man rushes," Tlusty said. "They're a high skilled team and they always score on those chances."
Holtby made the two-goal cushion hold up with 10 saves over the final 20 minutes.
Tlusty scored twice in a 2:35 span in the opening period. His first came on a backhand with four Capitals surrounding the net, and the next was on the power play off a wrister from the right circle with 5:53 remaining.
Ovechkin cut the deficit in half when he fired a wrister off the post and in with 39 seconds left in the first. Washington cashed in on a penalty to Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner early in the second, as Green redirected Backstrom's point shot past Ellis just 42 seconds in.
Carolina came in with the worst power play in the NHL, but went back ahead with another tally on the advantage. Ovechkin was sent off for hooking just 34 seconds after Washington tied things, and Eric Staal passed to an uncovered Tlusty on the left side to complete the hat trick at 1:52.
The fireworks continued 2 1/2 minutes later when Green ripped one into the left corner of the net to tie the game, 3-3, and send Ellis to the bench.
"We knew he wasn't playing confident," Ovechkin said of Ellis. "I could tell right away we had to get shots (on net)."
Peters made 10 saves ... Tlusty has six multi-goal games this season and already matched his career high with 17 goals in 35 games, which he set last season in 79 contests. His third goal also served as his 100th career point ... The Hurricanes came in converting on just 12.7 percent of their power plays ... Carolina defenseman Joni Pitkanen was taken off the ice on a stretcher during the second period with an apparent lower-body injury after slamming hard into the boards going after the puck ... Ovechkin's point streak is his longest since the 2009-10 season ... Four of Green's seven goals this season have come in the last three games.