Monday, April 2, 2012
Capitals Slip, Give Sabres Life
The Washington Capitals entered their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the best possible scenario. The Caps found themselves in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and just three points behind the Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers.
A win would have put the Capitals virtually out of reach of the Sabres, who are the only team that could catch the Caps, and one point behind the Panthers. Two points would have made the Panthers and Caps game in Washington on Thursday a vital game in the race for the Division title, now a win by the Panthers could seal a Division title for Florida.
Unfortunately for the Capitals, when the final buzzer sounded, they were on the wrong side of 4-2 game, and idle at 88 points.
The Caps were able to pull into a 2-2 tie late in the game, and seemed to have salvaged at least a point. However, with just 1:03 remaining Steven Stamkos netted the game winning goal giving the Lightning the victory, and ultimately breathing life into the Sabres' playoff hopes.
The Sabres are now in the position to pull even with the Capitals when they face the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow night at the last regular season game at First Niagara Center in Buffalo. If the Sabres are fortunate enough to grab the two points tomorrow night, the Sabres will likely still have to win the remainder of their games if they hope to sneak into the playoffs with 92 points.
If the Capitals suffer one more hiccup in their final two games, then the Sabres' chances of making the post season will once again increase. However, if the Sabres do not make the playoffs they will have no one but themselves to blame for not capitalizing on the various opportunities that have presented themselves over the last few weeks of the season.