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Capitals clinch playoff spot, deliver hit to Bolts post-season hopes

Justin Williams, Nicklas Backstrom, Sergei Bobrovsky

Justin Williams, Nicklas Backstrom, Sergei Bobrovsky


It’s official now.

The Washington Capitals have been playoff bound for some time but on Saturday they officially clinched their spot in the Stanley Cup tournament.

In doing so, they made the road to a possible playoff berth that much more difficult for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Capitals had a great start with T.J. Oshie opening the scoring on a pretty passing play. They then let the Bolts back into the game before taking over for good in the third period with a pair of quick goals from Justin Williams and John Carlson.

Oshie finished the scoring with the hat trick goal into the empty net, giving Washington a 5-3 victory. Nice touch.

With 11 games left on their schedule, and with a long list of injuries, the Lightning sit two points back of the Toronto Maple Leafs (losers in overtime versus Chicago on Saturday) for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Maple Leafs also have a game in hand, while the New York Islanders are only one point behind Toronto.

Bolts coach Jon Cooper lamented the goals given up just 2:16 apart in the third period. The Williams goal came just after Tampa Bay had killed off a Jonathan Drouin penalty and Carlson provided the dagger.

“We take the penalty and we get through it. And then we just stop playing. Our defensive awareness ... we can’t let that happen,” he told reporters. “Can’t give up that fourth one. Killer.”

The Lightning, with two straight losses, host the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday.