NHL Roundup: Capitals, Sabres lose key games as playoff chances dwindle

Sammy Blais found the back of the net twice, and rookie Joel Hofer stopped 32 shots to help the St. Louis Blues sweep their series with the Washington Capitals 5-2.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sammy Blais scored twice, Joel Hofer made 33 saves in his season debut and the St. Louis Blues dealt the Washington Capitals a significant blow in their long-shot bid for a playoff spot with a 5-2 victory Friday night.

The Capitals missed an opportunity to make up ground in the race for an Eastern Conference wild-card spot against an opponent long out of it in the West. They trail the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders by five points with 12 games left to play.

St. Louis got contributions from all three reclamation projects acquired in deals prior to the deadline: the goals from Blais and one from Kasperi Kapanen and an assist from Jakub Vrana on Jordan Kyrou’s team-leading 31st of the season. Brayden Schenn sealed it with a long-distance empty netter with 1:39 left.

The Capitals got third period goals from Martin Fehervary and Nicklas Backstrom against Hofer, a rookie playing just his third NHL game after starter Jordan Binnington was suspended for throwing a punch in the Blues’ last game. Darcy Kuemper finished with 17 saves.


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TORONTO (AP) — Zach Aston-Reese scored twice and Toronto snapped a two-game skid with a win over Carolina.

Morgan Rielly had a goal and an assist, and Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews also scored to help Toronto improve to 4-2-1 in its last seven games. John Tavares and Calle Jarnkrok each had two assists and Ilya Samsonov finished with 32 saves to help Toronto increase its lead to three points ahead of third-place Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division.

Martin Necas and Brady Skjei each scored for Carolina in its third loss in four games. Pyotr Kochetkov had 19 saves as the Hurricanes remained one point ahead of second-place New Jersey in the Metropolitan Division.


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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Owen Tippett had his first career hat trick, Carter Hart made 34 saves and Philadelphia snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over Buffalo.

James van Riemsdyk and Joel Farabee also scored, and Kevin Hayes and Tony DeAngelo each had two assists for Philadelphia. The Flyers won for the fourth time in 14 games since the All-Star break.

Victor Olofsson scored both goals for the Sabres, who lost for the eighth time in 11 games to further hurt their playoff chances. Buffalo entered six points back of a wild-card spot and needed to jump three teams.


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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Max Jones scored the tiebreaking goal on a breakaway with 2:37 remaining and Anaheim won a matchup of teams near the bottom of the NHL standings.

Scott Harrington had two goals for the Ducks, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Troy Terry and Ryan Strome each had a goal and an assist, Trevor Zegras and Max Comtois also scored and Simon Benoit had two assists for Anaheim. Lukas Dostal stopped 38 shots.

Patrik Laine had a goal and an assist for Columbus, which has dropped two straight and became the first team eliminated from postseason contention. Nick Blankenburg, Boone Jenner and Cole Sillinger also scored, and Hutchinson made 31 saves and also had an assist.

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