NHL Washington Capitals

Washington Capitals Sneaking Back Into Playoff Picture

Washington Capitals Holtby Wins

Bruce Fedyck – USA TODAY Sports

Don’t look now, but the often-criticized Washington Capitals have almost crept back into the playoff picture. Thanks to two strong games from goaltender Braden Holtby, the Capitals now sit just three points away from the eighth spot in the conference, and their offense has finally started performing at the level it was expected to.

In back-to-back wins over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and Friday, Holtby allowed just one total goal, while turning aside 50 shots. The second-year netminder is now 12-10-0, and has dropped his goals-against average to 2.68 for the season. He is 6-3-0 in March, and deserves a lot of credit for helping the Capitals get back to a point where they can think about the postseason.

On the other end of the ice, a Capitals offense that has not lived up to potential this season has delivered in a big way in the past two games. Troy Brouwer got his 11th goal of the season in Thursday’s win, while Marcus Johansson, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom also scored. Ovechkin also had a pair of assists, and was by no means done for the weekend. On Friday, he added two more goals to bring his season total to 15. Brooks Laich got his first goal of the season and has two points in three games since returning from injury, Jay Beagle and Mike Green chipped in goals as well. Mike Ribeiro had a pair of assists and Brouwer added a goal for a second-straight night, in one of the best team wins of the season.

With Ovechkin finally scoring like he has in prior seasons, the return of a healthy Laich and the continued contributions of Brouwer, the Capitals offense appears ready to make a strong push to finish out the season. If Holtby can keep turning in performances like he did against the Jets, this team has a great chance to return to the playoffs.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL blogger for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JKatje or add him to you network on Google.