Alex Ovechkin scored twice to give him an NHL-leading 49 goals as the Capitals beat the New Jersey Devils 5-3 Saturday night in each team’s regular-season finale.
Serenaded by chants of “We want 50,” Ovechkin wrapped up his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer and came one goal short of his eighth 50-goal season. Ovechkin, 32, scored for the third consecutive game. He is the oldest player to lead the NHL in goals since Phil Esposito in 1974-75 at age 33.
By beating the Devils in regulation, the Metropolitan Division-champion Capitals ensured they wouldn’t face New Jersey in the first round of the playoffs.
Playing without MVP front-runner Taylor Hall, New Jersey fell to the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. The Devils will open on the road against the Atlantic Division winner — either the Boston Bruins or the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Wentz, 25, threw for 3,296 yards and ranked second in the NFL in touchdown passes with 33 to just seven interceptions despite missing the final three games of the regular season and Philadelphia’s eventual Super 52 win over the Patriots.
Finishing in first place puts some pressure on the Capitals, but it’s nothing like in years past. More than anything, there is urgency to win, with Ovechkin 32 and having three years remaining on his contract.
“We all know what we’re playing for is to win a championship, and I’m hoping we do it this year,” owner Ted Leonsis said. “I’m hoping we do it within his contract time.”
Columbus is a tough first-round matchup for the Capitals, but their play down the stretch makes a long playoff run possible if they get strong goaltending from Braden Holtby or Philipp Grubauer. From the net out, Washington looks like a contender thanks to the trade-deadline additions of defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek and the play of centers Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom.