Capitals beat Penguins to sweep season series
PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - Two goals from Russian sniper Alex Ovechkin helped the Washington Capitals to a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday and a four-game season sweep of last season's Stanley Cup champions.
Ovechkin's goals, his 47th and 48th of the season, moved him into a tie for the NHL lead with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, who scored in the second period on Tuesday.
Alexander Semin, Mike Knuble, Tomas Fleischmann and Matt Bradley also scored for the Capitals (53-15-12), who have already clinched the Presidents' Cup for most points in the league.
"I think the playoffs is a whole new ballgame," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters. The Caps lost to Pittsburgh in last season's conference semi-finals. "I don't know if it is going to affect them. They are Stanley Cup champions."
Jordan Leopold's goal 49 seconds into the third period, his second of the night, reduced the Capitals' advantage to 4-3 before Ovechkin made the game safe with a power-play goal and an empty-netter a second before the final buzzer.
Crosby added two assists for Pittsburgh but he was once again upstaged by Ovechkin, who had gone four games without a goal.
"I think Crosby played unbelievable tonight. He just showed how good he is," Ovechkin said. "I didn't score for like four games. Finally, one goes in and I felt pretty good."
Pittsburgh played without Evgeni Malkin, who had returned from a foot injury on Saturday but was scratched against Washington for undisclosed reasons.
The Capitals won their fourth in a row and extended their wins record to 53. The Capitals' previous single-season mark was 50 wins.
Caps goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves, upping the stakes in his battle with Jose Theodore for starting duties in the playoffs.
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing Peter Rutherford)