Capitals Vs. Panthers: Washington Wins, But Both Teams Clinch Playoff Spots

The Washington Capitals clinched their fifth straight playoff appearance with a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, but even with the loss, the Panthers were able to seal up a playoff spot of their own. Both have the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers to thank.

Philly's 2-1 come-from-behind regulation win over the Sabres gave the Panthers a guaranteed playoff spot, and the Buffalo loss combined with Washington's win gave the Caps a playoff spot.

Jay Beagle, Alex Ovechkin and Brooks Laich opened up a 3-0 lead for the Capitals before Mikael Samuelsson and Ed Jovanovski pulled Florida within a goal. There was hope for the Panthers -- and thus the Sabres, watching from the locker room in Philadelphia -- late in the third, but an Alex Semin goal with 1:02 left in the third sealed the deal and Buffalo's fate.

Now, all that's left in the Eastern Conference playoff picture is seeding. The Capitals' win gives them a shot at the Southeast Division title on Saturday night when the NHL season comes to a close. They need to beat the New York Rangers and hope for a Carolina regulation win over the Panthers to grab the Southeast title. Otherwise, Florida will win its first ever division title.

For more coverage of all the playoff scenarios across the NHL, stick with our StoryStream.

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