Washington, DC (SportsNetwork.com) - Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season to lead the Washington Capitals in a 4-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday.
Ovechkin scored his league-leading 50th goal in the first period to reach the milestone for the sixth time in his career. It was his 472nd career goal, tying Petr Bondra for the franchise lead.
"Every year, it's harder and harder," said Ovechkin. "But it's a huge accomplishment with those names up there. It's always nice. But every year, you don't know what to expect from yourself, how you are going to play."
Mike Green, Joel Ward and Brooks Laich also scored for the Capitals, who have won three of their last four. Braden Holtby stopped 23 shots.
Washington has 94 points and sits comfortably in the lead wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Caps are just one point back of the Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Eric Staal and Nathan Gerbe lit the lamp for the Hurricanes, who have dropped six of their last eight. Cam Ward allowed all four goals on 20 shots in the loss.
"Tonight wasn't the effort we wanted out of the group," said Gerbe. "You can't win games if you don't put the effort in."
Washington scored at 2:46 of the first to take the lead when Green skated down the left wing and threw a pass to the front where it hit off the stick of Carolina's Justin Faulk and went into the net.
Ovechkin scored his goal at 11:12 of the first to give the Caps a 2-0 lead. Evgeny Kuznetsov came down the middle and sent a pass to the left wing. It hit off the stick of a defender, but went right to Ovechkin and he one-timed it home.
The Hurricanes cut their lead in half at the five-minute mark of the second when Gerbe scored from the left wing, and they tied the game 5 1/2 minutes later when Staal finished off a play with a wrister from the low right side.
Washington, though, took the lead back with 2:54 to play in the second as Jason Chimera skated down the right wing and sent a pass to the slot where Laich shifted to the backhand and put it in.
Just over a minute later, the Caps padded their lead as Ovechkin came down the right wing and passed it over to the left where Ward tapped it in for his 17th of the season.
Carolina mustered just five shots in the third period as Washington easily held on for the win.
Washington plays its next three on the road starting in Montreal on Thursday ... Carolina plays in Florida on Thursday ... Washington didn't have a power play in the game while Carolina went 0-for-2 ... Kuznetsov posted two assists.