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Power Rankings: Capitals snap slump and start to come alive with playoffs near

Ken Campbell
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Power Rankings: Capitals snap slump and start to come alive with playoffs near

T.J. Oshie, Alex Ovechkin, and Evgeny Kuznetsov Image by: Getty Images

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Power Rankings: Capitals snap slump and start to come alive with playoffs near

Ken Campbell
By:

The Capitals snapped out of their season-long four-game losing streak to post five-straight wins, and it's time to fear Washington once again.

Stand down, Capitals Nation. As it turns out, there’s really nothing wrong with your team and it was probably just bored. Oh yes, and Alex Ovechkin has not forgotten how to score.

After putting up a four-game losing streak earlier this month, the Capitals are 6-0-1 in their past seven. And after going through a run in which he scored just one goal in 13 games, Ovechkin has five in his past four games, including a hat trick – from pretty much the same spot on the ice – in Washington’s 5-4 overtime victory over Minnesota Tuesday night.

That was the Capitals sixth straight win and opened their margin for first place overall to three points. It also ensconced the Capitals as the top team in this week’s thn.com Power Rankings. (Last week’s rankings in parentheses.):

THE CREAM OF THE CROP

1. Washington Capitals (4)
2. Anaheim Ducks (10)
3. Edmonton Oilers (5)
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (1)
5. St. Louis Blues (6)
6. Montreal Canadiens (7)
7. Tampa Bay Lightning (22)
8. Chicago Blackhawks (2)
9. Pittsburgh Penguins (3)
10. Carolina Hurricanes (18)

With a 5-4 overtime win over Minnesota Tuesday night, Braden Holtby became the third goalie in NHL history to post three straight 40-win seasons…Is Patrick Eaves the best trade-deadline acquisition this season? He has 7-2-9 totals in 14 games since coming over from Dallas…Connor McDavid is on pace to score 29 goals, which if he wins the scoring championship would tie Peter Forsberg, Joe Thornton and Daniel Sedin for the lowest full-season total for an Art Ross winner since 1964-65…The Blue Jackets remain the only team in the NHL that has not lost three straight games this season…The Blues top line of Alex Steen between Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko registered 10 points in a 4-1 win over Arizona Monday night…Like his predecessor Michel Therrien, Claude Julien isn’t convinced Alex Galchenyuk is ready to be an NHL center yet. He moved him to the wing recently…If the Lightning do achieve the almost impossible and make the playoffs this season, they will not be a fun team to play against…Ryan Hartman, who is a better-than-adequate replacement for Andrew Shaw, earned his first healthy scratch after taking a penalty for mouthing off in the Blackhawks 7-0 loss to Florida Sunday…Out the past six games with a shoulder injury, Evgeni Malkin is expected back “sooner rather than later,” according to coach Mike Sullivan. Sooner doesn’t mean tonight, though…Pop quiz: How many teams in the NHL currently have zero regulation losses in their past 10 games? Answer: Carolina at 7-0-3.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE

11. Calgary Flames (9)
12. Toronto Maple Leafs (15)
13. Boston Bruins (17)
14. Ottawa Senators (8)
15. Nashville Predators (14)
16. San Jose Sharks (16)
17. New York Rangers (11)
18. Philadelphia Flyers (25)
19. Winnipeg Jets (13)
20. Minnesota Wild (12)

A win over Los Angeles on home ice tonight and the Flames have punched their ticket to the playoffs. Not bad for a team that started the season 5-10-1…After breaking Wendel Clark’s team record for most goals by a rookie with his 35th of the season in a 3-2 win over Florida Tuesday night, next up for Auston Matthews is Peter Ihnacak’s rookie record of 66 points, which was set in 1982-83. It won’t be a walk in the park. Matthews is at 62 with seven games remaining…After missing one game with a lower-body injury, Tuukka Rask stopped 24 shots Tuesday night to lead the Bruins to a crucial 4-1 victory over Nashville…The Senators have a league-best .838 winning percentage (27-4-3) when they score the first goal of the game…With the only goal in a 4-1 loss to Boston Tuesday night, Predators winger Craig Smith ended a 25-game goal drought…Brent Burns’ overtime winner in a 5-4 victory over the Rangers Tuesday night was his 28th goal of the season, but his first in 16 games…After being dominated for two periods Tuesday night, the Rangers managed to pull a point out of their 5-4 overtime loss to San Jose, which clinched a playoff berth for the seventh straight season…With their 3-2 shootout win over Ottawa Tuesday night, the Flyers posted back-to-back wins for the first time in almost a month, which explains why they won’t make the playoffs this season…The spirit of the Atlanta Thrashers lives on in Winnipeg. For the fifth time in the six seasons since they’ve moved from Atlanta, the Jets are out of the playoffs. On the bright side, Dustin Byfuglien returned to the lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury in the Jets 4-3 shootout win over New Jersey Tuesday night and led the way with 27:43 of ice time…Seemingly a shoo-in for the Vezina Trophy at the all-star break, Devan Dubnyk is 1-7-2 with a 3.42 goals-against average and .869 save percentage in his past 11 starts with the Wild.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE

21. New York Islanders (19)
22. Detroit Red Wings (23)
23. Buffalo Sabres (29)
24. Los Angeles Kings (20)
25. Florida Panthers (28)
26. Dallas Stars (24)
27. Vancouver Canucks (26)
28. New Jersey Devils (27)
29. Arizona Coyotes (21)
30. Colorado Avalanche (30)

After scoring just two goals in his first 24 games, free-agent acquisition Andrew Ladd has hit the 20-goal mark for the sixth time in his career. With just eight assists, however, he’s on pace for his worst offensive totals in nine seasons, not to mention the Cy Young Award…Turns out Carolina goalie Eddie Lack wasn’t the only one injured in that overtime collision Monday night. Outstanding sophomore Andreas Athanasiou, who scored the overtime winner, was crosschecked in the back by Victor Rask on the play and missed the Red Wings 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes Tuesday night. The loss ended Detroit’s playoff streak at 25 years…Rather than make him a healthy scratch, the Sabres decided to bench Sam Reinhart for the entire game in Buffalo’s 3-1 loss to Columbus Tuesday night. Reinhart reportedly showed up late for a team meeting…Here’s all you need to know about the Kings this season. Anze Kopitar is their hottest scorer of late, with four goals in his past 12 games. Seriously. The only guy who has scored for them this season, Jeff Carter, has one goal in his past 14 games…The Panthers will miss the playoffs for the 14th time in the past 16 seasons, but they have the biggest bargain in hockey. Jonathan Marchessault leads them with 29 goals and is on a contract that pays him just $750,000 this season and next…Patrick Sharp of the Stars ended an absolutely miserable season early when he shut it down to have hip surgery he hopes will let him extend his career…The Canucks announced they will not call up Jake Virtanen for the rest of this season while he tries to help the Utica Comets, the Canucks farm team, secure an American League playoff spot…Devils goalie Cory Schneider said he and his teammates have to, “play with some pride, get a little embarrassed or pissed off how things have ended here.”…Could this be the last we’ve seen of Shane Doan in the NHL? He’s been out with a lower-body injury since March 16 and there is no timetable for his return…Let’s finish on a positive note here. Sven Andrighetto has five goals and nine points in 12 games since being picked up from Montreal at the trade deadline.

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Power Rankings: Capitals snap slump and start to come alive with playoffs near