Can Dramatic Win Propel Playoff Push?

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

Washington’s 3-2 overtime win over the Islanders on Tuesday was huge in a couple of ways. First, the Caps needed the two points. They’re embroiled in a tight battle for playoff positioning and they needed to start their season-long five-game homestand off on solid footing. Second, they played well enough to win that game right from the opening puck drop. To play well and lose against a team beneath you in the standings is a tough pill to swallow at this stage of the season. The game marked just the third time in the Capitals’ 37-season franchise history that the team rebounded from a two-goal deficit in the final four minutes of the third period and went on to win the game. Troy Brouwer scored twice in the last 3:29 of regulation and Alex Ovechkin’s overtime goal – the 11th overtime game-winner of his NHL career – won it for Washington. Wins are wins and points are points. But coming back to win a game in such dramatic fashion might do the Caps more good than if they had smoked the Islanders 5-1. “Maybe you look back 20 games from now, and it could be a game that sways the season,” says Caps center Brooks Laich. “You have to take care of business at home. And for whatever it was [56] minutes, it wasn’t looking very good. We played well, but the result wasn’t there. Now we’ve got three wins in a row. If you can get the fourth one, now you start to get a snowball that can build up and turn into something bigger.” The Caps will aim for something bigger tonight when the New Jersey Devils visit Verizon. The Devils are in seventh place in the Eastern Conference standings, six points in front of ninth-place Washington. Washington will be seeking its first four-game winning streak since it won four straight from Dec. 28-Jan. 3. The Caps trail first-place Florida by three points and second-place Winnipeg by one point in the Southeast Division standings. With a winning streak of some substance, the Caps can put some pressure on the Panthers and the Jets, and those are two teams not necessarily versed in the pressure of pre-playoff hockey. Florida is currently in the midst of an 11-year absence from the Stanley Cup playoffs, the longest drought in NHL history. The last – and only – playoff appearance for the Winnipeg (née Atlanta Thrashers) franchise came in 2007. Between them, the Panthers and Jets have accounted for one playoff appearance in their last 22 combined seasons. “They’ve been playing good hockey,” says Brouwer of the Southeast teams the Caps are chasing. “I know Winnipeg is on an eight-game homestand and they’re really good at home. We want to put as much pressure on them as we can. We’re on a little bit of a homestand here and we haven’t had too many winning streaks lately. To get into the playoffs, we’re going to have to get a couple more going, string a few together because the win one/lose one is just not getting us anywhere in the standings. We’ve got to put together some wins and put together a couple of games where we’re getting points.”

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Less Than Zero

January 14, 2013

With 19 games remaining on their 2011-12 regular season schedule, the Florida Panthers are in the top spot in the Southeast Division standings. This is the latest stage of the season in which the Cats have occupied the catbird’s seat in the Southeast in a dozen years. Back in 1999-00, the Panthers


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