With their loss to the New York Islanders Tuesday, the Capitals flubbed an opportunity to move one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins into third place in the Metropolitan Division. Results around the league also locked in a few teams and narrowed down the possible first-round opponents for Washington down to two possible teams.
The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the New York Rangers 4-3 to win the Metro and lock up the top spot in the division. The Boston Bruins also won 4-2 over the Florida Panthers securing the top wild-card spot. With those two results, Washington can now play only the Rangers or Panthers in the first round of the playoffs with the Hurricanes no longer a possibility. If the Caps are able to pass Pittsburgh and take third place, they will play New York. If they remain in the second wild card, they will play Florida.
The good news for Washington is that the Pittsburgh Penguins lost 5-1 to the Edmonton Oilers keeping their lead over the Caps down to just one point. Washington also has a game in hand.
The Penguins will host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday in their final game of the season. Washington plays on Long Island Thursday in a rematch against the Islanders and then will play the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Friday.
In terms of tie-breakers, Pittsburgh leads in regulation wins 36-35 and in regulation and overtime wins 42-39 so the Caps need to pass the Penguins as tying them likely will not be good enough to pass them.
A win for the Caps On Thursday then will go a long way toward Washington claiming third in the division and a potentially better first-round matchup. To do that, however, they will have to beat the same Islanders team that defeated them on Tuesday.