LANDOVER -- The Washington Capitals nailed down third place in the National Hockey League's Patrick Division last night with a 4-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils before a sellout crowd of 18,130 at the Capital Centre.
Don Beaupre was once again outstanding in the goal for the Capitals, recording his second shutout in a row and his fifth of the season. He has allowed only six goals in the past six games and has a goals-against average of 0.99 over that stretch.
He also is 4-1-1 and has not allowed a goal since Tom Hoover of the Boston Bruins scored at 4 minutes, 18 seconds of the third period last Sunday. He has not allowed a goal in his last 135 minutes and 42 seconds.
Jeff Greenlaw, Calle Johansson, Mike Ridley and Michal Pivonka scored for the Capitals and Dimitri Khristich had two assists.
The Capitals, who are assured of playing the New York Rangers in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, still can finish second in the Patrick Division and gain the home-ice advantage. The playoffs begin Wednesday.
TTC Washington has to defeat the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, N.Y., tonight and the Rangers must lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Capitals to gain second place. Should Washington lose or tie, or the Rangers win or tie, the Capitals would finish third.
"We've come from almost nowhere, six points out of fourth place, to gain the playoffs and have a shot at second place," said Ridley. "I think the key thing is that we shut down on defense down the stretch and came together as a team.
"We had a lot of new guys on the team and everyone seemed to finally get acclimated. It was a lot of little things and they all added up to success."
"It was a roller coaster ride for a while," said Capitals general manager David Poile. "We were up and we were down. But we responded when we had to and gained the playoffs again [for the ninth consecutive year] and that was our goal.
"I don't think you can say that it was a life-or-death situation that we made the playoffs, but it was something that we were pointing for."
Greenlaw, scoring the first NHL goal of his career, gave th Capitals a 1-0 lead at 17:38 of the first period. Tim Bergland won a faceoff just inside the New Jersey blue line and slipped the puck to Ken Sabourin at the left point. Sabourin slapped a shot on goal that Greenlaw, on recall from the Baltimore Skipjacks, redirected past Devils goalie Sean Burke.
A pair of second-period goals increased the Washington lead to 3-0.
Johansson lifted the rebound of a shot by Khristich over Burke at 3:27 for a 2-0 lead and Ridley's short-handed goal at 14:51 completed the scoring.
Ridley climaxed a two-on-one breakaway with Kevin Hatcher, beating Burke from close range over his right shoulder. It was Ridley's 23rd goal of the season.
Pivonka completed the scoring at 4:26 of the final period.
NOTES: Washington played without D Al Iafrate who has the flu and then lost D Mikhail Tatarinov with a pulled hamstring in the first period . . . The Capitals close out their regular season tonight against the Buffalo Sabres at the Aud. New Jersey finishes its season against the New York Islanders at the Meadowlands Arena . . . The Devils yesterday recalled RW Jeff Madill from the Utica Devils of the AHL . . . G Olaf Kolzig, who had been playing the Hampton Roads Admirals of the ECHL, will have shoulder surgery and is out for the remainder of the season. G Byron Dafoe has joined Hampton Roads from Prince Albert of the WHL. Hampton Roads has advanced to the ECHL finals against the Greensboro Monarchs. Another Washington farmhand with the Admirals is C Harry Mews.