By Sean Farrell
MONTREAL -- Alex Ovechkin is bearing down on reclaiming the Maurice Richard Trophy and the Washington Capitals are moving closer to securing a playoff spot.
Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 29th and 30th goals and added an assist to lead Washington to a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Troy Brouwer also scored twice and Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who took a 5-0 lead in the third period on Ovechkin's second goal of the game and his 21st in 20 games.
"Everybody was really focused. Everybody was ready for a big game," said Ovechkin, who moved three goals ahead of Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for the league lead. "You could see it from the start of the game. We dominated them."
Ovechkin won the Richard Trophy, awarded to the league's goal-scoring leader, in 2007-08 and 2008-09.
Stamkos has won it two of the last three seasons.
Braden Holtby made 31 saves, losing his shutout on Max Pacioretty's goal with 5:09 left in the third period.
The Capitals lead the Southeast Division with 52 points. They moved three points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, who lost 5-4 to the New York Islanders. Washington and Winnipeg, which both have three games left, face each other Tuesday night at the Verizon Center.
"We were watching the Winnipeg game right through the shootout and then for them to pick up a point, that one point can be very dangerous," Brouwer said. "We knew we had to continue to get more points and continue to try to create some more separation."
Carey Price stopped 20 shots for Montreal, which has lost four of five since clinching a playoff spot with a 5-1 win in Buffalo on April 11.
Price was pulled in two straight starts and got another loss in relief as the Canadiens changed goalies in all three losses during a three-game skid before Price got the win in Thursday night's 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay.
"I've got to make a few more saves," Price said. "I think we've got to play better as a group and it all starts with me."
The Canadiens remain in first place in the Northeast Division with 59 points, two points ahead of the Boston Bruins, who lost 3-2 to Pittsburgh earlier in the day. Montreal has three games remaining, all on the road. Boston has five games left.
"I think it's good for us to get out and sort out our problems on the road," Price said.
Ovechkin scored 4:49 in when he faked a pass and fired a shot along the ice between Price's pads.
Brouwer made it 2-0 with his 18th goal at 5:57. Capitals center Mike Ribeiro won a faceoff in the Canadiens' zone and drew the puck back to defenseman Karl Azner at the left point. Azner moved the puck up to Brouwer, who beat Price with a shot from the left side.
Brouwer got his second of the game, his 19th of the season, 3:49 into the second to make it 3-0.
Backstrom scored his seventh on a power play at 7:50 when Ovechkin's pass from the left side found him unmarked to the right of the goal for a tap-in.
Ribeiro got his third assist of the game on Washington's second straight power-play goal 13:23 into the third. Ribeiro took Backstrom's pass and fed the puck to Ovechkin, who beat Price between the legs again from the left side.
"We didn't play very well," Canadiens captain Brian Gionta said. "We weren't winning a lot of battles. Too many times we were getting beat to the puck and you're chasing the puck all the night when that's happening. And it's tough to play a game that way, especially with an offensive team like that."
Pacioretty scored his 13th goal at 14:51 to spoil Holtby's shutout bid.
NOTES: The blue and yellow "Boston Strong" ribbon was displayed on the Bell Centre video scoreboard during the singing of The Star-Spangled Banner. ... Forward Brandon Prust was presented with the Jacques Beauchamp Trophy before the game. The award is presented to the Canadiens' unsung hero as determined by a vote of media covering the team. ... Montreal defenseman Raphael Diaz returned after missing 25 games because of a concussion. ... Forwards Brooks Laich (strained groin) and Joel Ward (knee contusion) and defenseman Tom Poti (back injury) remain out of the Capitals' lineup.