(AP) — The Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals are a bit closer to wrapping up division titles and No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences.

The Hawks erupted for four goals in the first period of a 5-1 rout at Pittsburgh. Marcus Kruger and Marian Hossa capped the eruption by scoring :39 apart in the final minute of the period. Artemi Panarin put the Blackhawks ahead to stay 3:23 after the opening faceoff.

Patrick Kane collected two assists for Chicago, which picked up its first regulation win at Pittsburgh since 1997.

The Hawks lead the Central Division by nine points over the Minnesota Wild, who have just six games remaining.

The Capitals now lead the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference races by five points over Columbus after Marcus Johansson and Evgeni Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist in Washington's 5-3 win at Colorado. Kuznetsov put the Caps ahead 4-1 midway through the second period of their sixth consecutive win.

Philipp Grubauer stopped 32 shots for the Capitals, who are 2-0 on a five-game road trip that will also take them to Columbus on Sunday.

Elsewhere in the NHL:

— Goals by Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko gave St. Louis a 2-0 lead before David Perron added an empty-netter in the Blues' 3-1 win at Arizona. Carter Hutton handled 22 shots as the Blues moved one point ahead of Nashville for third place in the Central Division.

— Anze Kopitar and Jarome Iginla each had a goal and an assist as Los Angeles whipped the Flames, 4-1 in Calgary. The loss keeps the Flames three points out of second place in the Pacific Division and five points behind Anaheim.


Parise shelved

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Wild forward Zach Parise will likely miss the next three games after being struck by Washington's Tom Wilson before crashing into the knee of another Capital on Tuesday.

Parise has bruising and swelling around an eye from a high stick to the face that led to blows to the head as he fell. Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said he wouldn't be surprised if Parise were ready to return after the weekend.


NHL staging preseason games in China between Kings, Canucks

BEIJING (AP) — The NHL will play its first games in China this fall when the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks meet in Beijing and Shanghai.

The preseason games will take place Sept. 21 in Shanghai and Sept. 23 in Beijing. Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the launch of the NHL China Games at a news conference Thursday morning at Le Sports Center.

China is expected to be a large focus of the league's international ventures. Next season, the NHL is playing two regular-season games in Sweden between the Colorado Avalanche and Ottawa Senators.

Bettman called it a historic moment for the league.

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