Capitals take over Southeast Division lead

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The Washington Capitals couldn’t ask for things to go much better than they did on Thursday, taking over the Southeast Division lead thanks to tonight’s events. Here’s a rundown of the ground they gained against the Winnipeg Jets and the Eastern Conference’s bubble teams to boot.

Washington 2, NY Islanders 1 (SO)

Braden Holtby stopped 35 out of 36 shots, Mike Green kept his four-game goal streak going and Alex Ovechkin scored the lone shootout tally to give Washington a close win against fellow playoff contenders the New York Islanders. With that charity point, the New York Rangers’ inactivity and other teams’ losses, the Isles moved up to seventh in the East.

(In case you’re wondering, Martin Erat was a non-factor in less than 15 minutes of ice time, so maybe that’s lone downer.)

Boston 1, New Jersey 0

Jaromir Jagr’s lucky first goal as a member of the Boston Bruins ended up being the game-winner as Tuukka Rask tormented the New Jersey Devils with a 40-save performance. At least for one night, the Devils remain out of the top eight (now No. 9) in the East.

Montreal 4, Winnipeg 1

Like the Devils, the Winnipeg Jets lost their fifth game in a row to drop out of the top eight tonight. Michael Ryder was the player who bedeviled Winnipeg the most, scoring two goals and an assist. Another strong goalie performance was a factor, too, as Peter Budaj stopped all but one of the 34 pucks that came his way.

Philadelphia 5, Toronto 3

Perhaps this represents the only less-than-ideal outcome for the Capitals, although that’s probably grasping at straws when you look at the night as a whole.

Thanks to tonight’s activity, the Capitals now have a 46 percent chance to win the Southeast compared to dual 24 percent odds for Winnipeg and the Tampa Bay Lightning (who beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-0 tonight), according to Sports Club Stats.