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Lapierre scores twice as Capitals beat Senators


WASHINGTON (AP) — Hendrix Lapierre has only been back with Washington for a couple of days, one of several injury call-ups from the minors, but he senses a little something different about the Capitals this time around.

Winning, mostly.

Lapierre scored twice Monday night as the Capitals beat the Ottawa Senators 6-3 in a good, old-fashioned goal fest, for their fourth victory in five games. They've picked up a point in seven of their past eight since ending a six-game losing streak.

“There’s an energy right now that’s special in this room, and guys are focused, so it’s great,” Lapierre said of a team that was missing regulars T.J. Oshie, Nic Dowd and Nick Jensen to injury and Sonny Milano to illness.

“When really important pieces go down, like it’s the case right now, you have to see other guys step up.”

John Carlson, Max Pacioretty, Aliaksei Protas and Beck Malenstyn each had a goal in pushing the Capitals to four points back of Philadelphia for third place in the Metropolitan Division, with two games in hand.

“It was a great effort from everyone," Lapierre said after his first multi-goal game in the NHL. “It’s fun to see guys up and down the lineup contributing.”

The Flyers visit Friday. That game will have a high bar to match the entertainment level of the Senators-Capitals, which featured six goals in the first period alone and two more in the first 1:58 of the second, before Lapierre added another nine minutes later on a perfectly executed 2-on-1 give-and-go with Anthony Mantha.

"Had a blast playing with these guys tonight, and I’ll take the couple bounces and the goals," Lapierre said.

Shane Pinto and Brady Tkachuk each had a goal and two assists, and Drake Batherson also scored for the Senators, whose two-game winning streak ended. Pinto has five goals and eight assists for 13 points in 15 games since returning from a half-season suspension for violating the league's gambling policy.

“We were just a little flat," Pinto said. “We’ve just got to be more mature. I think we’ve got to be better with the ebbs and flows of the game.”

Not coincidentally, two dozen scouts were in attendance to watch a couple of teams that could easily be sellers, unless the Capitals make up even more ground before the March 8 trade deadline. Mantha, Pacioretty and Joel Edmundson are among the pending free agents who could be on the move from Washington, as well as wingers Vladimir Tarasenko and Dominik Kubalik from Ottawa.

It was far from a banner showing for goaltending on either side.

The Capitals chased Ottawa starter Anton Forsberg after one period by scoring four goals on their first 10 shots. Joonas Korpisalo didn't fare much better, giving up two goals on his first four shots, facing 10 overall.

“We gave them all four goals in the first,” Senators defenceman Jake Sanderson said. "Yeah, they won the game, but I feel like we beat ourselves.”

Darcy Kuemper made 18 saves in net for Washington, which is also chasing one of the two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference, now six back of Tampa Bay and seven behind Detroit. The Capitals next face the Red Wings in a crucial matchup in the playoff race.


Senators: Visit the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

Capitals: Visit the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.