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.