Stars rout Capitals 5-0 to maintain playoff push

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Dallas Stars and Washington Capitals both began the game one point away from a playoff spot.

The Stars? They played like a team determined to get to there for the first time since 2008.

The Capitals? They looked like a group tired of having their yearly routines disrupted by such a trivial thing as postseason hockey.

It was no contest. The Stars‘ 5-0 win over the Capitals on Tuesday night was a victory of confidence over embarrassment. Dallas has won five of six, outscoring opponents 16-5 over their last three games.

“It’s a big obstacle,” said Ray Whitney, who scored in the second period. “It’s been, what, five years now? … We’re no different than anybody else who’s been out for a while. We want to get in pretty bad.”

The victory, at least for a few hours, moved the Stars ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes for the final postseason berth in the Western Conference. The Coyotes hosted Winnipeg later Tuesday.

“It’s scoreboard-watching time,” Whitney said. “We’ll be flying to Carolina tonight, but we’ll be watching the game and the score. As soon as we land everybody will check their phones.”

The Capitals will probably want to shut off their phones for a while. They were booed heavily in their home rink, particularly after an abysmal stretch in the second period in which they allowed several odd-man rushes, took a slashing penalty and gave up two goals in 34 seconds.

“If I was a fan, I’d be booing us right now,” said goaltender Braden Holtby, who relieved Jaroslav Halak in the second period after Dallas’ third goal. “A playoff race like we’re in? To lose 5-0, it’s awful. There’s no words for it.”

The Capitals began their run of playoff seasons in 2008. Like Dallas, they started the day as a ninth-place team, but they ended up dropping a spot to 10th. They would lose a tiebreaker against every team contending for the final postseason spots in the Eastern Conference. They have lost four straight and were shut out for the seventh time this season.

Alex Ovechkin - the league’s leading goal-scorer - hasn’t scored a 5-on-5 goal in more than a month.

“If somehow we make the playoffs playing like this, who are we kidding?” coach Adam Oates said. “We have to figure out a way to get better. We have to stick together.”

Tyler Seguin scored his 33rd goal, Dustin Jeffrey got his first two of the season, and Whitney and Ryan Garbutt also scored for the Stars. Alex Chiasson had three assists, and Kari Lehtonen made 35 saves for his fourth shutout.

After over-relying on Seguin and Jamie Benn to carry the scoring load, Dallas suddenly has been getting points from seemingly everyone.

“If you look at our top line, I think a lot of teams are focusing on that. They’re getting the harder matchups,” said Jeffrey, who has been back and forth to the minors after being claimed off waivers in November. “We have to be able to score up and down our lineup.”

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