Claiming the Southeast Division title was an impressive feat for the Washington Capitals given their slow start.
Reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, meanwhile, could provide a huge boost to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night as they seek the victory that would reward them with a postseason spot of their own.
In this compressed lockout season, reaching the playoffs - let alone claiming the division - was a steep challenge to the Capitals after a brutal 2-8-1 start under first-year coach Adam Oates.
While playing in the mediocre Southeast gave Washington (26-18-2) some time to right itself, having Alexander Ovechkin return to playing at a superstar level after finding a comfort zone following his switch from right to left wing was a huge factor in tearing to a fifth division title in six seasons.
Ovechkin assisted on Nicklas Backstrom's go-ahead goal before scoring an empty-netter that capped a 5-3 win Tuesday night over Winnipeg that also clinched the third seed in th...