WASHINGTON (AP) — Pius Suter scored twice, Robert Hagg ended a 75-game goal drought and the Detroit Red Wings stayed hot by beating the Washington Capitals 3-1 on Tuesday night.
The Red Wings won for the sixth time in seven games, moving ahead of the Capitals in the Eastern Conference wild-card race and taking another step to ending their six-year playoff drought. Washington lost a fifth in a row in regulation — its longest stretch without a point since January 2014, the last time the team missed the postseason.
Detroit kept rolling despite Dylan Larkin getting ejected 12:43 in for cross-checking T.J. Oshie in the face. Larkin, a pending free agent and the Red Wings’ captain, had been their best player during this run with seven goals and six assists in six games since the NHL All-Star break.
No Larkin, no problem, with Hagg scoring for the first time since Oct. 25, 2021 — two teams ago — and Suter getting one goal short-handed in the first period and another at even strength in the third. Ville Husso made 26 saves.
Washington’s only goal came on a major penalty to Larkin, when Tom Wilson redirected a shot from Erik Gustafsson past Husso. Darcy Kuemper allowed three goals on 25 shots, and former Red Wings winger Anthony Mantha was knocked out of the Capitals lineup in the second period with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Jakub Vrana, traded to Detroit from Washington for Mantha at the 2020 deadline, got a video tribute and a standing ovation. Vrana helped the Capitals win the Stanley Cup in 2018 and was a fan favorite before falling out of favor with now-coach Peter Laviolette.
Alex Ovechkin missed a fourth consecutive game for the death of his father. The Capitals got fourth-line center Nic Dowd back after missing more than a month, but that didn’t help their offensive woes as they scored two or fewer goals for the fifth time in six games.
Red Wings: Host the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
Capitals: Continue their three-game homestand against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night.
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
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