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Capitals one win away from playoffs, rivals left to root for Flyers


With the New York Islanders clinching a playoff spot last night, the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference remains up for grabs.

The Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers are all vying for that coveted spot as the Capitals and Red Wings have 89 points followed by the Penguins with 88 and the Flyers with 87 as all four teams have just one game remaining on their schedules.

The Capitals are in the driver’s seat with an opportunity to clinch the final wild-card seed with a win over the Flyers tonight. Washington is coming off a 2-0 victory over the Boston Bruins Monday as Charlie Lindgren turned aside all 16 shots he faced while John Carlson’s goal in the first period held up as the game-winner.

“I think it’s pretty fitting for what this group has been through, going down to the last game, going on the road, playing a back-to-back, against a real good hockey team, to play one game, one game for our playoff lives,” says Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery. “For us to get to this point, we had to look after [Monday night], and I thought our guys did a really good job of staying focused on just [Monday night], worry about Boston. And it was as clean a game as we’ve had.”

The Capitals won their last game against the Flyers 5-2 and are 3-1-1 in their last five games, allowing only 10 goals against.

For Philadelphia, who hasn’t played since Saturday’s 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils, they need to win in regulation against Washington and need both the Red Wings and Penguins to lose in regulation.

The Red Wings roared back from a 4-1 deficit against Montreal at home on Monday to win 5-4 in overtime. Now they head on the road to Montreal for the regular season finale. If the Red Wings lose in regulation, they will be eliminated, but will clinch with a win and a Capitals loss. 

“We know what we need to do,” said Red Wings forward J.T. Compher postgame. “All tonight did was give us an opportunity to finish the job tomorrow. We’ll control what we can control, which is our game. All we did was give ourselves a chance to finish the job tomorrow.”

Washington's hopes of reaching the playoffs will end with a regulation loss Tuesday. The Capitals can remain alive with an overtime or shootout loss, but they would need the Red Wings to also lose and the Penguins would then have a win-and-in opportunity on Wednesday against the Islanders.