A third straight season with 50 or more goals seems likely for Alex Ovechkin, while a third consecutive Southeast Division title for the Washington Capitals appears guaranteed.
Ovechkin looks to continue his torrid scoring and help the Capitals match a season high with their sixth straight victory Saturday night when the Phoenix Coyotes visit the Verizon Center.
Ovechkin continued to make his case as the league's top player with two more goals in a 6-3 victory at Pittsburgh on Thursday night in the superstar's latest matchup with rival Sidney Crosby.
"We just wanted to win this game, it doesn't matter how," Ovechkin said. "All this group was really concentrating. I think we deserved this win."
Thursday was the first meeting between Pittsburgh and Washington since the Penguins won Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last season.
"On the ice, we didn't try to think about Game 7," Ovechkin said. "They're an unbelievable team. We want to improve, and we want to gain that spot where they were last year. ... If we do everything that coach (Bruce Boudreau) says, I don't think anyone can stop us."
With his 31st and 32nd goals, Ovechkin moved within one of Crosby and three of San Jose's Patrick Marleau for the league lead. Ovechkin, whose 68 points rank second in the NHL to Vancouver's Henrik Sedin, has been the league's leading goal scorer each of the past two seasons.
With 251 career goals, Ovechkin joined Wayne Gretzky (356), Mike Bossy (305) and Mario Lemieux (300) in the select group of players with as many as 250 in their first five seasons.
Ovechkin has six goals and 12 assists during a season-high eight-game point streak. He has 15 goals and 23 assists in 21 contests since returning from a two-game suspension Dec. 7.
Thursday's win extended Washington's lead in the Southeast to 19 points over Atlanta and Florida as the Capitals (32-12-6) continue to battle New Jersey and Buffalo for the top seed in the East.
The Capitals have won six in a row twice this season, most recently Nov. 25-Dec. 7.
Jose Theodore has been in net each game during the win streak, posting a 1.97 goals-against average. He is 5-1-0 with three ties lifetime against Phoenix (29-17-5).
Washington's Mike Green, the top scorer among NHL defensemen with 50 points, sat out Thursday with an unspecified injury. Green has three goals and nine assists in a nine-game point streak.
Phoenix finished a six-game homestand with a 4-2 victory over Nashville on Thursday, winning for the third time in four games. Scottie Upshall notched his first career hat trick -- all in the third period -- and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 41 shots as the Coyotes moved into fourth place in the West.
"We let some points get away (on this homestand) so we wanted to make sure we finished it right," said coach Dave Tippett, who earned his 300th victory. "We've got to go on the road now and (play) two real hard games in Washington and Detroit and find a way to get points there."
Captain Shane Doan had three assists Thursday, giving him two goals and six points in his last three games.
The Coyotes have won four of the last five meetings with the Capitals, including a 2-1 home victory Oct. 23, 2008, in the most recent matchup. Phoenix is 4-0-1 with a pair of ties at Washington since its last regulation loss there March 16, 1998.