Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ Metropolitan Division-clinching 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night at the Canadian Tire Centre.
How it happened: In a rarity this season, the Capitals got all the offense they would need in the opening period when Mike Richards (2:32), Alex Ovechkin (12:22) and Nicklas Backstrom (14:37) scored goals to give the Caps a commanding 3-0 lead. Braden Holtby took care of the rest, stopping 28 of 30 shots to earn his 44th victory of the season. But it certainly got interesting. The Senators drew within 3-2 with 1:33 remaining on a goal by Mika Zibanejad, but T.J. Oshie scored his 23rd goal of the season into an empty net.
What it means: The Caps clinched their first Metro Division title with the win and secured home ice through the first three rounds of the playoffs. The Caps have won a division title six times in Alex Ovechkin’s 11 seasons (five Southeast titles, one Metro title).
Holt-beasty: The Capitals are now 14-0-1 this season and have outscored opponents 53-26 in those games, holding opponents to two or fewer goals in 13 of those 15 games. Braden Holtby improved to a perfect 13-0-0 following his own losses, and has allowed just 23 goals in those games, never more than two in a game. Holtby is now 44-9-4 and is four wins shy of matching Marty Brodeur’s single season record of 48 wins, set in 2006-07.
Line juggling: The Caps opened the game with Justin Williams on the top line, but by the end of the game Williams was back on a second line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky, and T.J. Oshie was up with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
Worth noting: Mike Richards’ first-period goal was his second of the season and first since Feb. 22. Alex Ovechkin’s first period power-play goal was his 43rd goal of the season and 518th of his career, tying him with Dale Hawerchuk for 35th all-time. Next up, Pat Verbeek (522).
If the season ended today: The top-seeded Caps would face the eighth-seeded Detroit Red Wings, but that could change because the Philadelphia Flyers moved into a tie with the Red Wings with a shootout loss in Columbus, blowing a two-goal lead in the final minutes of regulation. The Flyers have 10 games remaining; the Red Wings nine.
Look ahead: The Caps are tentatively scheduled to practice at Kettler on Wednesday but those plans could change following their win. The Caps will be at Kettler on Thursday and will visit the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
MORE CAPITALS: Caps get off to fast start in first period against Senators