Capitals enter NHL playoffs as division champions
After butting heads with the New York Islanders for the Metropolitan division title for the past few weeks, the Washington Capitals finally secured it on Thursday night with a 2-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens.
The game itself had a postseason feel since both the Capitals and the Canadiens were fighting to secure their spots in the playoffs.
Montreal was hoping to clinch the Eastern Conference wild-card position and Washington wanted the division crown.
The stakes were high and the energy both these teams brought to the ice carried the vibe of the playoffs.
Lars Eller secured the first goal of the game at 18:36 in the first third against former teammate Carey Price. Celebrations were short lived when Nicklas Backstrom received a penalty for high-sticking. Shea Weber utilized the Canadiens power play effectively scoring on Braden Holtby with just 28 seconds left in the first period.
Nic Dowd secured the lead in the second period with a snap shot that became the game winning goal. The Capitals left Capital One Arena quite pleased with the fourth consecutive Metropolitan division title.
Meeting their competitor on Saturday in Washington, the Capitals suffered a 3-0 loss against the New York Islanders. After winning their game Thursday night, the Capitals are looking ahead to maintain their confidence and speed on the ice as they go into the postseason.
Winning the Stanley Cup last summer marked a monumental milestone for the Capitals. Their successes have continued to be impressive into this season.
Alexander Ovechkin has proven to continue his astonishing career by reaching his eighth 50 goal season after playing against Tampa Bay in March.
Being 33 years old, he is only the fourth player in all of NHL history to achieve this career marker at his age.
Another star player, Braden Holtby, had his own impressive accomplishment this season. After playing the Philadelphia Flyers in March, Holtby became the second fastest goalie to reach 250 winning games. The only other goalie to do so faster is Ken Dryden.
The Capitals have continued to impress after their epic win in Las Vegas that won them the cup last season. Washington fans remain hopeful that their team will continue playing hard as playoff season approaches. With high expectations, the Capitals are going into the playoffs with the division crown after an exciting win against Montreal.
In round one the Capitals will be meeting with the Carolina Hurricanes. The first game will be played this Thursday at Capital One Arena. With how they’ve been playing lately, home ice advantage is looking promising for the boys in red.
Washington came to life last year in the playoffs after the Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in game six of the second round which advanced them into the Eastern Conference Final. After finally being victorious over their long-held rivals for many playoffs in the past, hope was sparked in the district. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the game winning goal in overtime that lead the Capitals past round two for the first time since 1998.
After winning the Conference Final against Tampa Bay, everyone in the district became a hockey fan. The exhilarating fight for the Stanley Cup against the Las Vegas Knights ended with a thrilling win in game five across the country. D.C. erupted in celebrations and the wave of excitement has been sustained through this past season.
Going into the playoffs, this season has every proud Capitals fan hoping that the boys in red can do it all over again. They have even adopted a catch-phrase to help their cause: “back to back.” All eyes will be on Washington as the postseason approaches to see how the defending Stanley Cup champions will maintain their fire.
~Abby Saether, Staff Writer~