Ovechkin scores 38th goal, Capitals cruise past Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS — alex ovechkin scored his 38th goal of the season when the Washington Capitals defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-2 at Nationwide Arena on Thursday.

Ovechkin scored No. 768 in the NHL one game after passing Jaromir Jagr (766) for third on the goals list against the New York Islanders on Tuesday. Ovechkin trails Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801). He is two goals from Tying Gretzky for the most 40-goal seasons in NHL history (12).

Anthony Manta scored twice, conor sheary had a goal and an assist, and Nicklas Backstrom had two assists for the Capitals (34-18-10), who have won three straight and have a seven-game point streak (6-0-1). Vitek Vanecek made 39 saves.

joonas korpisalo made six saves on nine shots before being pulled for the Blue Jackets (31-28-3), who had won three straight. Elvis Merzlikins made 20 saves in relief after playing in a 4-1 win at the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.

Columbus entered the game trailing Washington by 11 points for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

“We knew they’re trying to catch us right now,” Mantha said. “So we knew it was kind of a four-point game, even if there’s 20 games left. But we also knew they played last night so we wanted to put pressure on them, put the puck in deep and just get on the forecheck. “

Video: WSH@CBJ: Ovechkin rips home wicked wrister for PPG

The Blue Jackets put two pucks into their own net and allowed an empty-net goal with nearly 11 minutes left in the game.

“It was not our night. I can tell you that,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “A 7-2 game, you’re thinking that is a disaster, but our guys gave it their all tonight. It was a strange game.

“Score twice on yourselves, it’s going to be tough to win that way.”

Mantha gave Washington a 1-0 lead on a breakaway at 4:29 of the first period when his backhand slipped through Korpisalo’s pads. He made it 2-0 at 12:20 when his shot from him rebounded off the end boards and went in off Korpisalo’s left skate. It was Mantha’s third goal in the past two games.

Martin Fehervary extended the lead to 3-0 at 1:20 of the second period with a backhand through the five-hole on a 2-on-0. Korpisalo was pulled after the goal.

Oliver Bjorkstrand cut it to 3-1 at 6:57 with a power-play goal.

Ovechkin made it 4-1 on the power play at 10:44 with a snap shot from the top of the right face-off circle.

“A lot of weird bounces,” Bjorkstrand said. “They scored a lot of goals. It just felt weird, I guess.”

Patrick Laine cut it to 4-2 at 1:47 of the third period when he tipped a shot by Zach Werenski at the left side of the net.

Connor McMichael pushed the Capitals lead to 5-2 at 4:15 after Blue Jackets defenseman Dean Kucan put the rebound of McMichael’s shot into his own net.

“Mistakes happen,” Werenski said. “I thought we worked for the most part. It is what it is, just a weird game.”

Video: WSH@CBJ: Mantha’s shot pinballs in for 2nd of game

Washington coach Peter Laviolette said, “It was a different game. To get the fifth one right away, get back at it, get that three-goal lead back, I thought it was important.”

Sheary made it 6-2 with an empty-net goal at 7:18, and Yevgeny Kuznetsov scored on the power play at 9:03 for the 7-2 final. It was his 20th goal of the season.

“The last 20 games it’s all going to be like playoff hockey, everyone’s fighting for points,” Sheary said. “We’ve just got to bring that attitude every game.”

NOTES: capitals forward TJ Oshie left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury. There was no update. … With his fifth goal from him, Fehervary became the 10th rookie defenseman in Washington history to score that many in a season and the first since John Carlson (seven goals) in 2010-11. … Kuznetsov has scored 10 points (five goals, five assists) during a seven-game point streak. … Merzlikins became the 155th goalie Ovechkin has scored against. Ovechkin is tied with Gretzky for fifth behind Jagr (178), Patrick Marleau (177), Mark Messier (164) and Ron Francis (157). … Werenski extended his point streak to four games (five points; one goal, four assists). … Laine has scored four points (two goals, two assists) during a three-game point streak and 31 points (18 goals, 13 assists) in the past 22 games.

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