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Lace 'em up. Time for the Morning Skate.
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Essentially, the Washington Capitals already have so much of their biggest season milestones locked up. They're going to the playoffs and undoubtedly will win the Presidents' Trophy with the most points in the NHL (they're 12 points clear of the second-place Dallas Stars). But on Sunday they could've cleaned up their last bit of business before resting for the playoffs: clinching the Metropolitan Division crown.
But they needed a win to do so, and they happened to need it against the biggest buzz saw in the NHL right now. The Pittsburgh Penguins rolled right up to the Capitals, shoved them around a bit, took their moment and ran away in a 6-2 rout.
They've been doing that a lot lately. Pittsburgh has outscored opponents 24-11 in a six-game win streak that's catapulted them from the brink of the wild card hunt to a comfortable second place in the Metro with nine games remaining. It's almost like their dismal first half never happened. It's almost like Evgeni Malkin's absence hasn't slowed them down one bit.
It's almost like they're the scariest team heading into the playoffs. That's some bad first round news for the two teams from New York.
WHAT HAPPENED LAST NIGHT
- The Capitals did not look like the best team in the NHL.
- And they weren't the only team forced to wait last night: Minnesota's shootout win in Chicago denied the Stars of a playoff-clinching evening.
- Devils rookie Scott Wedgewood got his first career NHL start last night and absolutely ran with it.
- In a familiar refrain, the Blue Jackets played well and lost.
- Former Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom started in Calgary's net for the first time and earned his first win in over a year.
- Which is really only the latest low point in the Canadiens' season.
- Colorado missed two of their best players but still won to keep their playoff hopes alive.
- And in the process, they mathematically eliminated the Oilers from playoff contention.
- Which also helped the Sharks get that much closer to clinching a playoff berth themselves.
- Some Blackhawks fans were upset about a hit on Patrick Kane last night. But nobody was more upset than Artemi Panarin.
- The future of the Jets is tinged with optimism and uncertainty.
- The Oilers said goodbye to Rexall Place by screwing their fans one last time.
- What could an increased salary cap do for the Rangers?
- Philly's penalty kill is peaking at the perfect time.
- Officiating changes in subtle ways during the playoffs, so Lighthouse Hockey has a good breakdown.