The Capitals handled the Blue Jackets in a 7-2 win at Nationwide Arena in Columbus on Thursday as their point streak hit seven games.
Washington is 6-0-1 in March and has seemingly flipped the switch into playoff mode with just 20 games left to play. Seven tallies tied the season-high for the Capitals, which was set in an October win against the Ottawa Senators.
Here are a few takeaways from the night in Ohio:
Mantha strikes twice
The Capitals got two goals from Anthony Mantha to give them a nice cushion to start the night. One of them was earned. The other...well it was a bit fortuitous.
Mantha put the Capitals up 1-0 with a breakaway goal and then made it 2-0 when his shot hit the boards behind the Blue Jackets’ goal, ricocheted back into the crease, off Joonas Korpisalo and into the net.
In just his 17th game of the season due to an early-season shoulder surgery, the second line winger has six goals and 11 points. With him in the lineup, the Capitals are 11-1-5 this season.
Ovechkin keeps scoring
The Capitals’ captain, fresh off moving into sole possession of third place on the NHL’s all-time goals list, is now chasing down Gordie Howe.
With a power play goal in the second period, Alex Ovechkin moved to just 33 goals away from Mr. Hockey, and 32 goals away from No. 800 all-time.
Washington is now 22-3-4 this season when Ovechkin scores a goal.
Oshie leaves with an injury
The Capitals got some bad news late in the game when the team announced T.J. Oshie would not return due to a lower-body injury.
Oshie has battled injuries all season long, as Thursday was just his 28th game of the season. As a team, the Capitals have played 62.
There will be an update tomorrow before the team's game against the Carolina Hurricanes, but his injury could have a major impact if it's long-lasting.
Vanecek starts in net
With just a few days until the trade deadline, Vitek Vanecek was given another chance to stake his claim to the No. 1 job. The Capitals went with Vanecek on the front-end of a back-to-back and he earned the win by stopping 39 of 41 Blue Jacket shots on the night.
Washington will almost certainly play Ilya Samsonov Friday night in Carolina. And with just a few days until the deadline, every performance will be under the microscope.
Nail in the coffin?
It’s been almost a near certainty the Capitals would make the playoffs for a few months. Thursday might’ve been the game that (un)officially did it.
The Capitals now lead the Blue Jackets by 13 points with just 20 games left to play (and 40 points on the table) for both teams. For context, even a 15-5-0 finish would leave Columbus with 95 points on the season. In that scenario, Washington would need just 17 points in its final 20 games to make the postseason.
While it seemed unlikely before, the Blue Jackets would now need a miracle to catch the Capitals and make the playoffs.