NEW YORK (AP) — T.J. Oshie had a hat trick, Vitek Vanecek made 19 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the depleted New York Rangers 4-2 in a fight-filled game Wednesday night.
Oshie beat Alexandar Georgiev 12 seconds into the middle period with a shot from the right circle with Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich in the penalty box.
Oshie scored again at 8:26 of the second — again with Buchnevich penalized for a high-sticking major — his 20th goal of the season.
Nic Dowd also scored for Washington at 14:48 of the second with assists to defenseman John Carlson and Dmitri Orlov, his second of the game.
Oshie, whose father died this week, completed his hat trick with an empty net goal at 18:20 of the third.
Rangers rookie Alexis Lafreniere ruined Vanecek's shuout bid at 1:15 of the third period with his 11th goal of the season. Fellow rookie forward Morgan Barron scored his first NHL goal at 18:44 to complete the scoring.
The Capitals moved into a first-place tie with idle Pittsburgh in the East Division. Washington has three games left while the Penguins have two.
The dismal loss — the Rangers' fourth straight — came in their home finale and on the same day the organization stunningly fired President John Davidson and General Manager Jeff Gorton. The team said former Ranger Chris Drury would take over both jobs.
The contest also followed Monday's 6-3 loss to the Capitals in which Washington forward Tom Wilson pummeled Rangers top scorer Artemi Panarin after Wilson had punched Buchnevich during a scrum near the Capitals net. The loss eliminated the Rangers from the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Wilson was assessed 14 minutes in penalties but not tossed from the game. On Tuesday, the NHL fined the Capitals agitator $5,000 leading the Rangers to issue a scathing statement criticizing the league and director of player safety George Parros.
LIGHTNING 6, STARS 2
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Defenseman Erik Cernak had a goal and two assists to help Tampa Bay beat Dallas.
Defending champion Tampa Bay has won six of the seven meetings this season between the 2020 Stanley Cup finalists. The teams will meet again Friday night in Tampa.
The Stars remained alive for the fourth and final spot in the Central Division after Nashville's loss in Columbus. Dallas is four points back with three games remaining.
Andrei Vasileskiy finished with 20 saves for his 31st victory of the season.
Brayden Point and Alex Killorn each had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. Ross Colton, Mikhail Sergachev and Tyler Johnson also scored for Tampa Bay. The Lightning are 6-0-1 in their past seven to move into a tie for second place in the Central Division with Florida. The Lightning have played one fewer game.
Andrej Sekera and Tyler Seguin scored for Dallas. The Stars are 0-3-2 in their past five games.
BLUE JACKETS 4, PREDATORS 2
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Mikhail Grigorenko scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and Columbus prevented Nashville from clinching a playoff spot.
Oliver Bjorkstrand had two goals, including an empty-netter with less than a second remaining, and Jack Roslovic also scored for the Blue Jackets.
Elvis Merzlikins made 30 saves for the victory.
Tanner Jeannot and Calle Jarnkrok scored for Nashville.
SENATORS 5, CANADIENS 1
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Erik Brannstrom had three assists for his first career multi-point game, Shane Pinto scored his first NHL goal and Ottawa stalled Montreal's playoff charge.
Anton Forsberg made 30 saves for Ottawa after signing a one-year, $900,000 extension Wednesday.
Brady Tkachuk, Nick Paul, Connor Brown and Alex Formenton also scored for the Senators. They improved to 8-2-1 over their past 11 games.
Joel Edmundson scored for the Canadiens.