A sudden surge has the Boston Bruins on the verge of securing an opportunity to defend the Stanley Cup.
The Washington Capitals' postseason fate is not nearly as promising.
The Bruins look to extend their longest winning streak in three months and clinch a playoff berth Thursday night when they host a Capitals team coming off a discouraging loss.
Boston (45-28-3) was a point out of first place in the Northeast Division on March 16 but has since gone 5-1-0 to open a five-point lead over Ottawa with a game in hand. It is also four points ahead of Southeast-leading Florida for second place in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins have a nine-point advantage over ninth-place Washington and can secure a playoff berth with a victory.
"We're putting together some points at a very important time," goaltender Tim Thomas said after Tuesday's 5-2 win over Tampa Bay.
The Capitals (38-31-8) have been squandering opportunities to gain points in the last two weeks, and Tuesday's 5-1 loss to Buf...