Capitals Vs. Lightning: Washington Begins Season's Final Week In Tampa

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 03: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with Nicklas Backstrom #19 of the Washington Capitals, Troy Brouwer #20 of the Washington Capitals, and Dennis Wideman #6 of the Washington Capitals after scoring a goal against the Calgary Flames at Verizon Center on January 3, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

The final week of the season is here. Can the Capitals control their destiny to make it back to the playoffs?

One week and three games remain in the 2012 season for the Washington Capitals. After winning in a shoot out against Montreal on Saturday night, the Capitals play a division game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

The Capitals enter the game two points ahead of Buffalo for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and three points behind the Florida Panthers for the Southeast Division lead, with a game with the Panthers looming on Thursday.

Both the Sabres and the Panthers are idle on Monday and have three games left on their schedule. A win by the Capitals puts pressure on Buffalo to win against Toronto on Tuesday to help their playoff chances out. Florida plays the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday as well with pressure on them to gain on the Capitals.

Center Nicklas Backstrom could make a difference in this game as this Lightning team differs from the Lightning team that held him scoreless in last year's playoff sweep of the Capitals.

The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at Tampa Bay Times Forum. The game will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet.

For more on the Capitals, visit Japers Rink. For more on the Lightning, visit Raw Charge. For the latest from around the NHL, check out SB Nation's hockey hub.

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