Caps recap: Capitals surge to first place in Southeast

March 09, 2011|By Matt Vensel

The Capitals are finally clicking with a month remaining in the regular season. They have won five straight games and seven of eight to reclaim the top spot in the Southeast Division, and Monday night's 2-1 shootout victory over the Lightning gave Washington a two-point lead over Tampa Bay.

Early returns show that the Capitals are a better team after their trade-deadline dealings. They have won four straight games since acquiring center Jason Arnott and defenseman Dennis Wideman. Arnott has tallied a goal and an assist since coming over from the Devils, and he has a plus-three rating. Wideman, a former Panther, has logged 25 minutes a game and is a plus-four.

The shakeup in the locker room has given the Capitals a boost, for sure, but so has the play of a rejuvenated Alex Ovechkin. The Russian machine is riding a five-game point streak, and he has 13 points in his past 10 games. Ovechkin's shootout goal Monday turned out to be the game-winner.

The Capitals are getting it done in their own end, as well, an encouraging sign with the playoffs right around the corner. The have allowed eight goals on their winning streak, and Michal Neuvirth has been very solid.

Don't look now, but the Capitals are within striking distance of the Flyers in the East despite their mid-season struggles. Washington trails Philadelphia by just four points for the top spot in the conference.

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