NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The New Jersey Devils know the odds are against them as they chase a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Their latest win preserved their chances.
Ryan Carter scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:54 remaining to lift the Devils to a 2-1 win over the Capitals on Friday night. New Jersey jumped ahead of Washington into 10th place in the East, just three points behind eighth-place Columbus with five games remaining.
"We gave ourselves a chance to stay relevant," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said.
Tuomo Ruutu also scored for New Jersey, and Cory Schneider made 24 saves.
"It was the best win so far this season," the Devils' Jaromir Jagr said. "We showed up as a team."
Alex Ovechkin scored for Washington, which lost its fifth straight. Jaroslav Halak stopped 29 shots.
On the game-winner, Carter was sprung by a leading pass from Marek Zidlicky, and he snapped a shot that eluded Halak.
"I saw the shot and it went in," Halak said. "Simple (as that). I don't make the save. To me it was an easy shot and I let it in."
The Capitals lamented missed opportunities in the first 40 minutes that prevented them from taking control of a game that was up for grabs.
"It's obviously difficult to swallow the loss. We played a good game, had a lot of Grade A chances (and) their goalie made some great saves," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "Two goals against on the road should be enough. We just (didn't) score enough."
Ovechkin opened the scoring 10:12 into the game with his 49th of the season. The sequence began with New Jersey defenseman Mark Fayne committing a defensive zone turnover. Nicklas Backstrom found the loose puck and moved it to Mikhail Grabovski, who passed it to Ovechkin for the quick shot.
The goal was Ovechkin's first even-strength point since Feb. 27.
That was all the Capitals would get, as Schneider turned them away at every opportunity.
Schneider stuffed Jason Chimera on a breakaway with 1:28 left in the first, and kept the puck out of the net during a second period flurry in which Julien Brouillette and Backstrom had chances from along the crease.
"He made a good stop," Chimera said. "If that goes in, it's a 2-0 game."
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