How it happened: Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin played one of their best games of the season, combining for three goals, and Braden Holtby turned aside 28 of 29 shots to keep the Capitals’ miniscule playoff hopes alive.
What it means: If the Columbus Blue Jackets win Wednesday night in Dallas the Caps will be eliminated from playoff contention. Wednesday’s game between the Jackets and Stars is a continuation of a game postponed when Rich Peverley collapsed on the Dallas bench. Columbus had a 1-0 lead at the time the game was postponed and they will carry that lead into Wednesday night’s game which will be played over the full 60 minutes. For the Caps to get into the playoffs they would need to win their final three games and Columbus would need to go no better than 0-2-1 in their final three games – at Dallas, at Tampa and at Florida.
Ovi’s 50th: By scoring his 50th goal, Ovechkin became the 11th player to hit the 50-goal mark five times in his career, joining Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky [9 times], Marcel Dionne, Guy Lafleur and Mario Lemieux [6 times] and Bobby Hull, Phil Espositio, Pavel Bure, Brett Hull and Steve Yzerman [5 times].
Plus-one: Ovechkin was also a plus-1 on the scoresheet, improving his season total to a minus-34. The Blues’ Steve Ott was even and now is an NHL-worst minus-37.
Collision course: For the third time in two weeks the Capitals were their own worst enemies with two teammates involved in another violent collision. This one came with 2:37 remaining in the first period when Troy Brouwer collided with Marcus Johansson on his way to the Caps’ bench. Both players returned to the game. Two weeks ago Ovechkin and Jack Hillen collided, knocking Hillen out of the lineup, and on Saturday night Mike Green ran into Jason Chimera in front of the Capitals’ net.
Laich update: Caps center Brooks Laich visited with groin specialist Michael Brunt in St. Louis on Tuesday and was assured that his progress from groin surgery has been stead. Laich skated with the team, but his return to the lineup remains in question.
What’s next: The Caps’ season hinges on the result of Wednesday night’s game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars. They’ll practice at 2 p.m. in Raleigh, N.C., in preparation got Thursday night’s game against the Hurricanes.