The Washington Capitals still have a great chance to make the playoffs, but Friday stopped a momentum-building week with a thud. The New Jersey Devils slammed the door harshly on the Caps’ three-game winning streak, handing them a 5-0 defeat in another non-statement game for Washington.
Zach Parise got banged up a bit in the contest, but not before scoring a hat trick by the three-minute mark of the second period. It turned out that New Jersey would only need his first tally, which came on the power-play in the first frame.
While the Philadelphia Flyers hold the tie-breaker because they have an extra game in hand, Philly and New Jersey are essentially tied for fifth place in the East with 77 points.
The Capitals squandered an opportunity to take Winnipeg’s eighth spot as the Jets remain ahead of them with 70 to the Caps’ 69 standings points. Washington still has two games in hand, but a loss like this could set up a photo finish.
It might not just be between Washington and Winnipeg, either. The Toronto Maple Leafs made a desperate plea to get in the mix by changing head coaches while the Tampa Bay Lightning just beat the New York Rangers 4-3 in overtime to climb into 10th place with 67 points.
There’s still more than a month to go, but if the Caps fail to make the postseason, they’ll look at games like these will plenty of remorse.