ST. LOUIS — Alex Ovechkin became the 11th player in NHL history to score 50 or more goals in a season five times, and the Washington Capitals kept their slim playoff hopes alive by beating the slumping St. Louis Blues 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Ovechkin, who added two assists, beat Ryan Miller with a one-timer from the left circle at 17:54 of the first period for his 50th goal overall and 23rd on the power play, both league highs. It is Ovechkin’s first 50-goal campaign since 2009-10, when he scored 50. His single-season high is 65 in the 2007-08 season.
Nicklas Backstrom scored twice and Mikhail Grabovski added another goal for the Capitals, who have 85 points and are still on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture looking in with three games remaining.
Maxim Lapierre had the only goal for St. Louis, which has lost a season-high three straight.
Braden Holtby made 28 saves for the Capitals. He started over Jaroslav Halak, who played 40 games and recorded 24 wins for the Blues this season. Holtby also beat the Blues 4-1 on Nov. 17.
The Blues have been outscored 12-3 during the losing streak. St. Louis has scored two or fewer goals in nine of its last 11 games.
After Lapierre tied the game at 2:39 of the second period, Grabovski gave the Capitals the lead for good when he beat Miller with a slap shot from the left circle at 8:52 of the period.
Ovechkin then gave Washington some insurance when he broke in down the right wing and fed Backstrom in the slot. Backstrom put it past Miller with 1:10 left in the second period to make it 3-1.
Washington began the third period on a power play and Backstrom put the game out of reach when he scored 16 seconds into the period.
NOTES: Ovechkin is tied with Pavel Bure, Phil Esposito, Bobby Hull, Brett Hull and Steve Yzerman with five seasons of 50 or more goals. Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky accomplished that nine times, and Marcel Dionne, Guy Lafleur and Mario Lemieux had six such seasons. … Alexander Steen returned to the Blues’ lineup after missing the last three games. … Tuesday marked the first time the Capitals have been in St. Louis since Dec. 1, 2010, when they also beat the Blues 4-1.