April 2, 2012; Tampa FL, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Jason Chimera (25) is congratulated by teammates after he scored a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the third period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Washington Capitals 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

NHL Standings: Capitals Can Finish 3rd, 7th, Or 8th In Eastern Conference

With one game left, Washington still has a shot at a 5th straight Southeast Division title.

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NHL Standings 2012: Capitals Can Finish 3rd, 7th, Or 8th In Eastern Conference

After Thursday night, we know which eight Eastern Conference teams will square off for the Prince of Wales Trophy and a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals. Washington's 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers coupled with Buffalo's 2-1 loss in Philadelphia eliminated the Sabres and ensured that both Florida and Washington would have something to celebrate at the Verizon Center Thursday night.

So, as of Friday morning, here are the prospective playoff match-ups in the Eastern Conference:

No. 1 New York Rangers (109 points, Atlantic Division champion) vs. No. 8 Florida OR Ottawa OR Washington.

No. 2 Boston Bruins (100 points, Northeast Division champion) vs. No. 7 Ottawa OR Washington

No. 3 Florida OR Washington (Southeast Division champion) vs. No 6. New Jersey Devils (100 points)

No. 4 Pittsburgh Penguins (106 points) vs. No. 5 Philadelphia Flyers (103 points).

As you can see, the Southeast Division title and the race for the No. 7 seed are the two dominoes left to fall. Washington, Florida and Ottawa all close their seasons on Saturday. The Senators play the Devils at 3 p.m., the Capitals play the Rangers at 6:30 p.m., and the Panthers host Carolina at 7:30 p.m.

Ottawa and Florida both are sitting on 92 points. The Capitals have 90 points, but hold the non-shootout win tiebreaker over both their competitors. Florida can not finish as the No. 7 seed, because they have the fewest non-shootout wins of the three. So, with that in mind:

  • The Capitals Clinch The Southeast Division And The No. 3 Seed With: A win AND a Florida regulation loss.
  • The Capitals Clinch The No. 7 Seed With: A win AND an Ottawa regulation loss AND a Florida win or overtime loss.

Barring the above outcomes, the Capitals will secure the No. 8 seed and a re-match of last year's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Rangers.

For the latest on the Capitals, visit Japers Rink. For more on the Panthers, visit Litterbox Cats. For information on the Ottawa Senators, visit Silver Seven. For the latest news and notes from around the league, visit SB Nation's NHL hub.

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NHL Standings 2012: Capitals, Sabres Even Up With Two Games Remaining

The Washington Capitals were idle Tuesday night, but two remarkable games saw the playoff race tighten up in the Eastern Conference.

In the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Buffalo Sabres pulled even with the Capitals on 88 points after rallying from an early 3-0 deficit to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 in overtime. Despite falling into a tie on points, the Capitals still hold the first tiebreaker, with 36 non-shootout wins to Buffalo's 32. As a result:

  • Washington can clinch a playoff spot on Thursday night if they beat the Florida Panthers at Verizon Center AND Buffalo loses at Philadelphia.

The Capitals still have an outside shot at the Southeast Division crown after the Florida Panthers blew a 3-0 lead and lost to the Winnipeg Jets 5-4 in overtime Tuesday night. The point Florida picked up as a result of the loss moves them four points clear of Washington with two games to play. Florida also holds the tiebreaker over the Capitals, with 39 non-shootout wins to Washington's 36. As a result, the following scenario is in play:

  • Florida can clinch the Southeast Division title and the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a win OR an overtime loss against Washington Thursday night.

So, to review, the Capitals still control their destiny for a playoff spot, but not for the division title. As a result, if the Capitals beat Florida in overtime Thursday night, and if Buffalo loses to Philadelphia, both the Panthers and Capitals will have something to celebrate, bizarre as it sounds.

For more on the Capitals, check out Japers Rink. For the latest on the Sabres, visit Die By The Blade. For updates on the Panthers, visit Litter Box Cats. For the latest news from around the NHL, visit SB Nation's hockey hub.


NHL Standings: Washington Still Two Points Ahead Of Buffalo For Last Playoff Spot

The Washington Capitals are still in the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, but they haven't been able to shake the Buffalo Sabres.

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