- Associated Press - Saturday, April 9, 2016

ST. LOUIS — Alex Ovechkin scored three times to reach 50 goals for the seventh season, Braden Holtby won his 48th game to tie the NHL record for victories among goaltenders and the Washington Capitals dashed the St. Louis Blues’ Central Division title hopes with a convincing 5-1 win on Saturday night.

Ovechkin scored twice in the first period, once on the power play, and added his 50th goal in the third period. John Carlson and Jason Chimera also scored for the Capitals, the Eastern Conference champions, who will play the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning next week.

With the victory, Holtby tied Martin Brodeur, who won 48 games for the New Jersey Devils in 2006-07. Coach Barry Trotz said last week that although the Capitals have one game remaining on Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks, Holtby and backup Philipp Grubauer would split the two games.

“It just shows how good of a season he’s had,” said Brodeur, now an assistant general manager with the Blues. “Who knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, but I think it’s great.”

Vladimir Tarasenko started the scoring with his 40th goal after scoring the tying and winning goals in an overtime victory on Thursday at the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blues had little else in their regular-season finale and finished with the No. 3  seed in the Western Conference, pitting them against the Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs.

Ovechkin is the third player with seven 50-goal seasons, joining Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky, each of whom reached that mark nine times. He is the first player to score 50 or more goals in three consecutive seasons on two occasions.

It was Ovechkin’s second hat trick of the season, with the other on Feb. 11 in a 4-3 victory at the Minnesota Wild. It was the 15th of his career, tying Jaromir Jagr for most among active players.

Tarasenko, whose previous career high was 37 goals last season, is the Blues’ first 40-goal scorer since Brad Boyes scored 43 goals in 2007-08.

The Capitals outshot the Blues, 26-10, the first two periods, leading to their decision to pull Brian Elliott, who had won 11 consecutive decisions. St. Louis whipped Washington, 4-0, on the road in the other regular-season meeting earlier this month on a day off for Holtby.

Nicklas Backstrom assisted on all three of Ovechkin’s goals.

Capitals center Jay Beagle left the game at 13:52 of the first period after taking a shot by Tarasenko off the inside of his left foot.

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