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.