Washington Capitals: Caps Move Closer to Playoffs with Third Straight Victory

Barry LeonardAnalyst IIIMarch 24, 2013

Mar. 24, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19) celebrates with right wing Troy Brouwer (20) and left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) after scoring against the New York Rangers during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

With just 16 games remaining in the shortened NHL season, the Washington Capitals have turned it around at the right time. A 3-2 shootout victory over the New York Rangers has moved the Caps to just two points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

After spending much of the season residing near the bottom of the conference, Washington has now won three straight and four out of its past five games.

The Capitals continued their solid play in New York after back-to-back victories over the Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg Jets.

Washington came out rolling against the Rangers, getting two quick goals by its superstars. Nicklas Backstrom struck first on the power play, and Alexander Ovechkin followed that up with a goal just two minutes later.

The goal by Ovechkin was his sixth in his past five games.

New York stormed back, collecting goals by Arron Asham and Derek Stepan to knot the score at two heading into the first break.

After a shaky first period by both defenses, the goalies settled down, as neither team would score again in regulation.

The final goal came from Washington when Backstrom found the back of the net in the shootout.

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby stayed hot, stopping 30 of the 32 shots that he faced to pick up his third-straight win. He's allowed just three goals over that stretch.

Sunday's win was huge because the Rangers are one of the teams that the Capitals are chasing. New York did gain a point in the game and now holds the eighth spot with 33 points. Washington now has 31 points on the year.

This now marks the third time the Capitals have put together a winning streak of three games this season.

They will go for four in a row Tuesday night when the New York Islanders come to town. The Caps will be looking for revenge, as the Islanders ended Washington's last three-game winning streak with a 5-2 victory on March 9.