NHL: Nashville extend lead

‘Nobody has hit better than me this week’ – Koepka on his ball-striking during third round

The Predators won their sixth straight game to move six points above division rivals St. Louis, who were three goals down in the opening minutes against Dallas and never recovered. The Blues are level on points with Eastern Conference leaders Montreal.

Elsewhere, Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 37th goal of the season to lead Washington to victory in a feisty encounter at Pittsburgh, while the New York Islanders moved within a point of the East lead by downing Carolina.

Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne made a season-high 42 saves, while Craig Smith scored twice, Shea Weber scored and had an assist. And Paul Gaustad and James Neal scored a goal each for the Predators against the San Jose Sharks.

Matt Irwin scored the sole goal for the Sharks, who have won just one of their past six games.

Washington’s Ovechkin scored on a breakaway in the first period to set the Capitals en route to a 3-1 win at Pittsburgh.

The three-time MVP then helped set up Joel Ward’s first career goal against the Penguins as Washington improved to 3-0 against Pittsburgh this season. John Carlson added a short-handed, empty-net goal with 11 seconds remaining.

Steve Downie scored for the Penguins, who are now only a point above Washington in the closely contested Metropolitan Division.

Dallas’ Jamie Benn had his first career hat-trick to lead the Stars to a 4-1 win at St Louis.

St Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock yanked goalie Brian Elliott after the Dallas Stars took a 3-0 lead before the midway mark of the first period, the last two goals coming in a 20-second span.

By contrast, Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen was again supreme, extending his shutout streak to 1:45:48 before Patrik Berglund sscored late for the Blues.

The New York Islanders got goals from four players in the 4-1 win at Carolina.

Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Michael Grabner and John Tavares scored while back-up goalie Chad Johnson made 37 saves for the Islanders, who took a 3-0 lead in the season series between the first and last-placed teams in the Metropolitan Division.

Carolina outshot New York 18-8 in the second period and 38-30 overall, but couldn’t find a way past Johnson until Jiri Tiusty’s goal with 8:46 remaining.

Florida’s Nick Bjugstad scored the go-ahead goal on a power play early in the second period as the Panthers won 3-2 at struggling Toronto.
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Columbus’ Matt Calvert scored twice, including the winner midway through the third period, to lift the Blue Jackets to a 5-2 victory at Philadelphia.

New Jersey ended a four-game skid by beating Buffalo 2-1 after a shootout, with Scott Gomez and Jacob Josefson scoring in the tiebreaker.

Nashville Predators?? 5-1 San Jose Sharks
New York Islanders 4-1 Carolina Hurricanes
Philadelphia Flyers 2-5 Columbus Blue Jackets
Pittsburgh Penguins 1-3 Washington Capitals
New Jersey Devils 2-1 Buffalo Sabres
Toronto Maple Leafs 2-3 Florida Panthers
St. Louis Blues 1-4 Dallas Stars