WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin continued his recent resurgence with his ninth goal in seven games, and the Washington Capitals pulled back into the final Eastern Conference playoff spot with a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.
Jason Chimera and Mathieu Perrault also scored, and Braden Holtby made 28 saves in his fourth start of the season as the Capitals broke a two-game skid to move back into a tie on points with the Buffalo Sabres, with Washington holding the tiebreaker.
The Capitals and Sabres, both with just six games remaining in the regular season, meet in Washington on Tuesday night.
Looking again like the player who twice won league MVP, Ovechkin was influential throughout the game, highlighted from his blast from the left circle in the third period for Washington's third goal. He led the Capitals in ice time and had a superb shift during a second-period power play, hustling back to his own end to break up a short-handed odd-man rush and then supplying the secondary assist on Perrault's goal that made it 2-0.
Ovechkin has 36 goals on the season, having recently pass his career-low from last season, but he's still on pace for a career-low in points. He has 61, well below last season's mark of 85.
Recent call-up Holtby, sharing time with Michal Neuvirth while Tomas Vokoun recovers from a groin injury, started for the third time in four games and shut down the NHL's lowest- scoring team for his third career shutout. His point-blank save on Devin Setoguchi in the first period helped set the tone for the Capitals, who needed to re-establish momentum after blowing a 3-0 lead in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.
Another goaltender not long promoted from the minors, Matt Hackett, made 20 saves for the Wild. Niklas Backstrom did not make the trip because of a lower-body injury, and Josh Harding played Saturday in a 3-1 loss at Buffalo.
The Wild were shut out for the eighth time this season. Their latest injury casualty is center Matt Cullen, sidelined after breaking his right index finger in Saturday's loss at Buffalo.Comment on this story
After a scoreless first period, Chimera gave the Capitals the lead by converting the feed from Alexander Semin on a two-on-one break. Perrault poked in a pass from Troy Brouwer for Washington's second goal.
Notes: Capitals RW Joel Ward missed his second consecutive game with a lower body injury. Washington C Nicklas Backstrom, sidelined since early January with a concussion, has resumed practicing with the team and could return this season. ... Minnesota D Jared Spurgeon missed his second game since sustaining a concussion in Thursday's win over Calgary, and LW Matt Kassian sat out his third straight with a groin injury.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP