Photo credit: Bill Wippert
The Caps wasted a chance to climb the standings with Monday night’s loss to the Lightning, but we held out hope that our rivals– Buffalo (9th place), Ottawa (7th), and Florida (3rd)– would have crummy nights on Tuesday.
That did not happen.
The Buffalo Sabres climbed out a two-goal hole twice before beating Toronto in overtime. Jordan Leopold’s game-tying goal came with less than two minutes left in regulation. Check out this nine-man pile-up in front of the Toronto net:
If you can see the puck through that replay, you could be an NHL ref, too.
Meanwhile, the Florida Panthers needed two points to sew up the Southeast division title. Leading 3-0 in the second period, it looked like they would do it, but the Winnipeg Jets fought back despite having nothing to play for save pride. The Jets earned a lead, but Tomas Kopecky tied the game up with four minutes left. Of course, the Panthers ended up losing in OT, making that their 18th overtime loss of the season. That ties them with the 2008-2009 Tampa Bay Lightning for the most OTLs since the lockout.
Call that stat sour grapes if you want, because that’s exactly what it is. The Panthers are beating the Capitals because they waited longer to lose more games.
Also, Ottawa lost to the Canes. No one cares.
So here’s where we stand now [UPDATE: Posted an out-of-date version before. Fixed now.]:
- The New York Rangers have locked up the first seed in the East.
- Buffalo and Washington are in a virtual tie for 8th place, but the Caps have the tiebreaker (regulation/overtime wins).
- The Caps can catch Ottawa for 7th– if Ottawa loses to Boston and New Jersey and the Caps win their last 2 games.
- The Caps can catch Florida for 3rd– if Florida loses in regulation and the Caps win both games. FLA’s last game is against Carolina.
- Buffalo’s final two games are against Philly and Boston.
3rd, 7th, 8th, and — gulp— 9th place are still possible for the Capitals.
Pretty much anything can happen. But the biggest determining factor for the Washington Capitals remains the Washington Capitals themselves. Thursday’s home closer versus Florida needs a fever pitch.
And Saturday’s bout with the Rangers will be…