Caps get big win, but lots of hockey left
The Washington Capitals shootout win over the New York Islanders on Thursday not only gave the Capitals the Southeast Division lead for the first time this season, but it also made Washington, D.C. sports history.
For the first time ever, D.C. is home to a first place team both in the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball on the same day.
Sure it’s early in the baseball season, but thanks to the Nationals’ season-opening three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins, the Nats are 3-0 and alone atop the National League East. The Capitals meanwhile are 6-1-1 in their last eight games and have pulled into a first place tie with the Winnipeg Jets atop the Southeast Division. The Capitals have two games in-hand on Winnipeg and therefore own the tiebreak.
Prior to today, the closest the Nationals and Capitals have come to being in first place on the same day was April 4, 2008, when the 3-2 Nationals were in a first place tie with the New York Mets and the Capitals were in a first place tie with the Carolina Hurricanes (92 points each in 81 games).
The Hurricanes though owned the tiebreak over the Capitals, who were technically in second place in the division and on the outside of a playoff position heading into the final day of the regular-season. While the Capitals went on to win their season finale against the Florida Panthers, which combined with a Carolina loss gave Washington the Southeast Division title, the Nationals fell out of first place that same night, on their way to a 102-loss campaign.
Starting in 2008, the Capitals won four straight Southeast Division titles. The Nationals though did not return atop the NL East again until an Opening Day win on April 5, 2012. By the time the Nats returned to first place in the NL East, the Capitals reign atop the Southeast had come to an end, as the Panthers were crowned 2012 division champions.
But one year later, on April 5, 2013, both the Nationals and Capitals woke up this morning in the penthouse, enjoying the view atop the divisional standings.