In the final home game of the regular season, the Washington Capitals clinched a playoff berth for the fifth straight season. The Capitals beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 in front of a sold out Verizon Center to clinch at least a spot in the postseason. Where they will finish has yet to be decided.
The Capitals could potentially pull out a fifth straight Southeast Division title with a win on Saturday and a Florida loss and take the third spot. If the Panthers gain one more point, they take the division title no matter what. So with a Panthers win/OT loss, and a Ottawa Senators loss and a Capitals win, they would take the seventh spot. If the Panthers get a win/OT loss, and the Senators win/OT loss the Capitals will finish in eighth of the Eastern Conference.
In what many were calling the “most important game” of the Capitals season, they came out firing early. Jay Beagle took a Troy Brouwer shot off of his backside, then fired the loose puck past former Capitals’ goalie Jose Theodore. 1-0 Caps. It wouldn’t be until the second period, and after Michal Neuvirth left the game due to an apparent lower body injury that the Capitals would add to their lead. Alex Ovechkin would get a rebound right in front of Theodore and put it past him to make it 2-0 Caps. Just two minutes later Brooks Laich pulls his best Mark Messier and puts the Caps up 3-0. Then it got interesting, with back-to-back goals by the Panthers. 3-2 Caps. It would remain that score until just a minute left in the third, when Alexander Semin would put the insurance goal in the back of the net on a backhander. Caps win 4-2.
Braden Holtby played strong after being called in after Neuvirth went down with an injury, and with what looks to be a serious one, may be leading the Capitals through the playoffs. Remember, Holtby is the King of Spring.
I’ll let all of you Caps fans go now. Go out, celebrate with friends. We can now all rest easy knowing that there is at least five games remaining to Rock the Red!
Follow Matthew on twitter @Geiser19.