The Capitals officially punched their tickets to the playoffs. With a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, Washington became the first team in the NHL to clinch a playoff berth. The Caps have now reached the postseason in three straight season and in nine of their last 10.
While we know the Caps will be headed to the playoffs, that's pretty much all we know.
Saturday's win gives Washington 100 points on the season, but both the Columbus Blue Jackets (98 points) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (97) are hot on their heels. Both teams hold a game in hand over the Caps. The stakes for the Metropolitan Division race are pretty high. The winner gets a first-round matchup with a wild card team. The losers will have to play one another.
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If you were annoyed by the Caps and Penguins meeting in the second round last season rather than the Conference Finals, well, imagine if they have to play in the first round instead.
As for who the second wild card team could be, that race remains tight between the Toronto Maple Leafs (79 points), New York Islanders (78) and Tampa Bay (77). The Leafs not only have the edge in points, they also hold a game in hand over both the Islanders and Leafs. That makes Friday's loss for the Lightning a critical one.
The race for both the Metro Division and the second wild card are tight ones and they may come down to the wire. So while the Caps know their season won't be ending on April 9 in the regular season finale, there's still plenty left to be decided and plenty left for this team to play for until then.
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The Maple Leafs made a push for Game 7, but in the end they fell in Game 6 as the Caps took the game and the series on Sunday.
Here's a recap of the three bold predictions.
1. Toronto will score in the third period - Correct
The hockey gods would not allow this prediction to be wrong. Did you see that bounce off the boards? Not only did it bounce right into the danger area right in front of the bench, it went to the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer in Auston Matthews.
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2. Someone will take a penalty against Alex Ovechkin - Wrong
Give Mike Babcock all the credit in the world. Every point where you thought lack of experience would hurt Toronto, it didn’t. That speaks to coaching. I thought the Maple Leafs would try to coax a penalty out of Ovechkin, but would get carried away. Yet, despite their inexperience and the pressure of the moment, Toronto remained very disciplined.
3. If Toronto leads after the first period, the series is going 7 games - Push
For the first time all series, the score after the first period was 0-0. Both teams had chances but looked more tentative than they had earlier in the series. They recognized what was at stake on Sunday and affected the play to a degree.
2017 Results: I expected to see Toronto’s best push in Game 6 and I was not sure how the Caps would respond. Washington’s response late in the game was very impressive and a great sign for Caps fans going forward in the postseason.
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It was a good week for Justin Williams.
On Friday, the clutch veteran scored the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 5 to give the Capitals a 3-1 series lead over the Maple Leafs.
On Sunday, in an elimination Game 6, he assisted on the Marcus Johansson overtime winner in Game 6, advancing the Capitals in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But when Williams returned to the Washington, D.C. area early Monday morning, he was greeted by some less than clutch news.
He was issued a speeding ticket.
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Based on his tweet, it's still unclear if ti was a an automated ticket from a speed camera zone or if he was pulled over on his way back from the airport.
But nonetheless, it's a less than ideal addition to the 'welcome home' celebration.
Up next for William sis is an equally frustrating scenario: A seven-game series with the Penguins, which begins Thursday night.