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Latest Southeast Division Items
At 2-8-1 on Feb. 8 there was reason for doubt, same thing March 20 after a devastating loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins that put the Caps nine points back of the Winnipeg Jets. But one man didn't lose faith in the Caps: the rookie head coach whose positivity in the lean times so often ran opposite the trend of losing.
Forget the scoreboard-watching, forget the math. It's very simple for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets.
Since their horrid 2-8-1 start, the Caps are 23-10-1. They could clinch the Southeast Division and corresponding No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference as soon as Tuesday. And they believe they can beat anyone.
Nicklas Backstrom also scored for the Capitals, who had an eight-game winning streak stopped in Ottawa on Thursday but rebounded with their 13th win in 16 games.
Mike Ribeiro scored and Braden Hotlby stopped 35 shots for the Southeast Division-leading Capitals (24-18-2).
Erat is settling in now, playing on the power play, penalty kill and scoring his first goal since the trade Tuesday in a 5-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Beating up on inferior division opponents helped put the Caps on the verge of making the playoffs, but right wing Troy Brouwer hopes this streak proves something bigger.
Jay McClement shoved Nicklas Backstrom's head into the boards, and Alex Ovechkin came to his teammate's aid. Washington Capitals fans roared at the replay, and it didn't even matter that the captain took a penalty by jumping the Toronto Maple Leafs forward. From that moment on, the Caps dominated the Maple Leafs on the way to a 5-1 rout, their eighth straight victory.
The Caps have won 11 of their past 13 games, a stretch that turned up the likelihood of playoff hockey in the District this spring. But the final six games are all against teams in the hunt, including five vs. those in playoff position.