Found April 02, 2012 on Fox Sports Florida:
The Washington Capitals are in control of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but there may be a bigger prize at stake in their final three regular-season games. The Capitals look to move closer to a postseason berth when they visit the eliminated Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night. Washington (40-31-8) is two points ahead of Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with three games left. Those contests may have even more on the line for the Capitals since they're within three points of Florida for first place in the Southeast Division, and those teams meet Thursday in Washington. The Panthers and the Sabres are idle Monday, and each has three games remaining. Washington, seeking a fifth consecutive division title, caps the regular season Saturday with a visit to the East-leading New York Rangers in what could be a potential first-round playoff preview. The Capitals, though, haven't made things easy on themselves recently. They squandered two-goal leads in each of their last two games but posted 3-2 shootout victories in Boston on Thursday and over Montreal on Saturday. "Two leads the last two games," defenseman Dennis Wideman said. "We have to find a way to keep pushing and keep pressing and not letting teams back in the game." Nicklas Backstrom could make a difference for Washington as he tries to build on his first game after missing 40 with a concussion. The center didn't get a point and was a minus-1 versus the Canadiens. "I've got to play the same way that I usually play," said Backstrom, who has 13 goals and 29 assists. "I can't be worried about getting hit again, and that's what I did from the start and it felt all right, but I can be a little bit better. My lungs were a little tired there after a while." Backstrom has no goals and one assist in his last six games against Tampa Bay (36-35-7), including the Lightning's second-round playoff sweep of Washington last year. He's appeared in only one meeting this season as the Capitals have gone 3-1-1 versus the Lightning, winning 3-2 on Alex Ovechkin's overtime goal March 8. Ovechkin has five goals and six assists in the past 10 meetings including the playoffs. However, he's gone without a goal in his last three games after scoring at least one in five straight. A groin injury to Tomas Vokoun could mean a second consecutive start for Michal Neuvirth, who has won back-to-back games after making 39 saves Saturday. He hasn't faced the Lightning since compiling a 3.74 goals-against average while starting each game of the playoff series last year. Tampa Bay went on to lose the conference finals in Game 7, but the team isn't going to the playoffs this time. Steve Stamkos has done his part, though, leading the league and setting a franchise record with 56 goals, netting six while adding two assists during a five-game point streak. Stamkos set an NHL record with his fifth overtime goal of the season Saturday in a 3-2 victory over Winnipeg. "Those moments create memories," said Stamkos, who has three goals and two assists against the Caps this season. "That's pretty special for as long as the NHL has been around." Ryan Malone is adding some scoring punch with five goals in the past two games. The left wing has three goals and four assists in the past seven games with Washington, tallying once March 8.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

If Washington Capitals clinch playoffs, Tomas Vokoun will likely not be available

Washington Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun suffered a groin injury during Thursday’s 3-2 shootout win over the Boston Bruins. The injury appears to be just enough to keep him out of the lineup for the remainder of the season and playoffs, if the Capitals can clinch. Tomas Vokoun, shown in this file photo, may not return with the Washington Capitals for the remainder...

Vokoun May Have Played His Last Game As A Capital

from Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington, It is entirely possible veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun has played his last game for the Capitals. The groin injury suffered by Vokoun in Thursday night’s 3-2 shootout win over the Boston Bruins is worse than the one that sidelined him six straight games and likely will keep him out of the lineup for the remainder of the regular season and...

Another Washington Capitals Shootout Victory, Another Muted Celebration

In Saturday night's game, the Washington Capitals beat the Montreal Canadiens because I muted the TV during the shootout.You're welcome.After Thursday night's shootout win over Boston, I promised to keep the TV muted if the Capitals were to play in another shootout.  In fact, the Capitals had to go to a shootout in the very next game.  I kept my promise, and it worked...

Capitals pad lead for 8th with SO win over Habs

Alexander Semin scored in the third round of the shootout as host Washington took sole possession of the Eastern Conference's eighth and final playoff spot with a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.With the victory, Washington pulled within two points of first-place Florida in the Southeast Division.Semin, who also had an assist, deked Peter Budaj and fired in...

Capitals 3, Canadiens 2, SO

The Washington Capitals welcomed back Nicklas Backstrom and took a big step toward the playoffs Saturday night, blowing a two-goal lead for the second game in a row before taking the shootout for a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. The result, coupled with Toronto's 4-3 win over Buffalo, moved the Capitals two points clear of the Sabres with three games to play. Washington...

Caps Get 2 Points, Hendricks Explains the Non-Fight With PK Subban

Nicklas Backstrom brought the crowd to life Saturday by simply being in the lineup, and the Capitals managed to squeak by with a win in the shootout and two much needed points. He played almost 20 minutes in his return, third most of any Caps forward. It wasn’t a pretty win, with the Caps blowing a 2 goal lead over Montreal early. Overall, however, the only Capital to not have...

Rapid Rewind: Stammer Time

For the Washington Capitals, Monday’s game was a microcosm of their season under Dale Hunter. The Capitals played the first half of the game conservatively and sloppily, failing to get any sort of sustained offensive momentum and allowing the speedy and skilled Tampa forwards to impose their will.  It wasn’t a case of waiting back, it was a case of being controlled by a better...

Capitals Slip, Give Sabres Life

The Washington Capitals entered their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the best possible scenario. The Caps found themselves in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and just three points behind the Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers.A win would have put the Capitals virtually out of reach of the Sabres, who are the only team that could...

Bruins potential playoff opponent – Ottawa Senators

So barring a miracle that would see the Washington Capitals win the last three games of their season while at the same time Ottawa loses their last three, it looks like the Bruins will be taking on the Senators in the opening round of the 2012 NHL playoffs. As a Bruins fan, this is a [...]

Capitals-Lightning Preview

The Washington Capitals are in control of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, but there may be a bigger prize at stake in their final three regular-season games. The Capitals look to move closer to a postseason berth when they visit the eliminated Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday night. Washington (40-31-8) is two points ahead of Buffalo for the eighth and final playoff...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.