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Alex Ovechkin scores twice as the Capitals beat the Jets 3-0 to move back into playoff position

WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored twice to reach 26 goals this season, Charlie Lindgren stopped all 27 shots he faced and the Washington Capitals beat the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 on Sunday to move back into a playoff position.

The Capitals have won four of their past five games, a stretch in which Ovechkin has scored eight goals.

“The puck goes in,” said Ovechkin, who had just eight goals in his first 43 games. “Everybody understands the situation. That’s why we fight all year, in training camp. We want to finish the season. In two weeks, we want to keep playing.”

Ovechkin getting hot has fueled Washington’s surge up the standings and reignited talk of him breaking Wayne Gretzky’s career goals record. He is 46 back.

The offensive explosion in the third period — John Carlson’s tie-breaking goal on a power-play blast 1:21 in and Ovechkin’s two scores — came after Lindgren was the best player on the ice for much of the afternoon. Lindgren outdueled Connor Hellebuyck, the front-runner for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender, turning aside several high-quality scoring chances throughout.

“He made some sliding across, 10-bell saves that you think are going to go in and then all of a sudden he gets a blocker on it out of nowhere,” Jets forward Mason Appleton said. “We couldn’t beat him.”

The combination of Lindgren’s stellar play and timely scoring added up to the Capitals’ second consecutive victory, after they beat Carolina in a crazy, 7-6 shootout Friday night. They passed Detroit for the East’s second and final wild-card spot ahead of a pivotal showdown with the Red Wings in Washington on Tuesday night.

“We’re laying it on the line and it’s great,” said Carlson, who has two goals and three assists on his five-game point streak. “The guys coming together for this push is huge. It’s far from over, and we’ve got a lot more work to do.”

The Jets missed an opportunity to at least temporarily pull into a tie with Colorado and Dallas for the most points in the Central Division. They’ve lost three in a row at the end of a lengthy road trip and now have five games at home to recalibrate for the playoffs.

“We’ll just have to get home here and regroup because it doesn’t get any easier,” said associate coach Scott Arniel, filling in for Rick Bowness, who is recovering from a medical procedure.

While Winnipeg has the luxury of looking ahead to the playoffs, the Capitals do not, with every game down the stretch carrying meaning. They are just one point up on the Red Wings and two back of Philadelphia for third place in the Metropolitan Division, looking to return to the postseason after missing it last year.

Nothing about the race has been easy. Already without Tom Wilson, who is serving a six-game suspension, the Capitals played much of the game without fellow winger Sonny Milano, who left midway through the first period after taking a seemingly harmless shove into the glass from Brenden Dillon and suffering what the team called an upper-body injury.

Coach Spencer Carbery did not have an update on Milano’s status afterward.

Before puck drop, the Caps honored veteran forward T.J. Oshie for reaching 1,000 NHL games on the team’s most recent road trip. Oshie was back in the lineup after missing the past two games because of injury.

UP NEXT

Jets: Host reigning MVP Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.

Capitals: Their game Tuesday at home against Detroit could determine who’s in a playoff spot with roughly 10 games left in the regular season for each team.

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