The Washington continue to show why they are a serious threat to bring home the Stanley Cup in June. The team doesn’t get rattled, even after losing two consecutive games out west. Instead, the Caps clinched a playoff berth on Tuesday night with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, when Alex Ovechkin scored his 17th career overtime goal. Now, the Caps have their eyes set on franchise history leading up to the playoffs.
On Friday night, Washington took care of a good Nashville Predators team, 4-1 to inch closer to making history. With the win, Washington improved to 51-14-5 and are now three wins away from tying and four wins away from breaking the franchise record for wins in a season. There are 12 games left before the postseason gets underway, so it looks like the Caps will indeed make franchise history. Washington won a franchise-best 54 games in the 2009-2010 season but failed to win the Cup.
During that season, Washington set franchise records for not only wins, but points (121), winning percentage (.659) and fewest regulation losses with 15.
Washington is rolling along on all cylinders and that isn’t good for whoever wants to get in their way.
The Caps will close out the month of March with three games on the road against Pittsburgh (3/20), Ottawa (3/22), and New Jersey (3/25), before returning home for games against St. Louis (3/26), Columbus (3/28) and Philadelphia (3/30). The games against the Penguins, Devils and Flyers could all be potential previews to who the Caps face in the first round of the playoffs as all three teams are vying for the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
On Friday night against Nashville, Evgeny Kuznetsov led the way offensively with three assists, giving him a team-best 73 points on the season. The Caps gave up the first goal of the game, which has become common this season, but rattled off four consecutive goals, with three coming in the second period.
Left winger Daniel Winnik, who was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs a few weeks ago, knotted the game at 1-1 with his fifth goal of the season. Nearly five minutes later T.J. Oshie lit the lamp for his 22nd goal of the season and what would go on to be the game-winning goal. With under a minute left in the period, Winnik found the back of the net once more to give the Caps a 3-1 lead after two. Washington wasted no time adding the fourth and final goal of the evening as Andre Burakovsky netted his 15th goal of the season just 36 seconds into the third and final period.
The first two Washington goals were enough support for goaltender Braden Holtby, as he notched his NHL-best 43rd win of the season, stopping 20 of the 21 shots he faced. The NHL leading scorer, Ovechkin was held without a point, but the Caps didn’t need a point from him on this night.
It’s hard for teams to stay motivated and focused once they have clinched a playoff berth, but the Caps aren’t letting that stop them from making history. While the record for most wins in franchise history isn’t the most important thing on the Caps plate heading forward, it is a nice accolade to achieve before making a run at Lord Stanley’s Cup.
For the fans of the Washington Capitals, just sit back and enjoy the history making season and gear up for the playoffs.