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Mar 25, 2024 1:41 pm

Red Wings, Capitals duel with eye on a wild-card spot

Alex Ovechkin

For the first time in several weeks, the Detroit Red Wings find themselves on the outside looking in for an Eastern Conference playoff berth.

The red-hot Washington Capitals have passed them in pursuit of the second wild-card spot. Those two teams now look to settle their differences at Washington D.C., in a pivotal contest on Tuesday.

Detroit (36-29-6, 78 points) is 3-9 since Feb. 29, falling one point behind Washington (35-26-9, 79 points). The Capitals, who also have a game in hand on the Red Wings, have won five of their past six games.

The Red Wings absorbed a 1-0 road loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday to kick off a five-game road trip. Filip Forsberg scored the lone goal with 5:14 remaining in regulation.

Detroit, which hasn’t qualified for the playoffs in the previous seven seasons, now finds itself in a near must-win situation on Tuesday.

“I think it feels special, but it also feels real,” Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider said. “We earned it to be in this position. We just have to put nerves or excitement by the side and grind.

“Every game is a playoff game for us and hopefully we can build momentum and be ready for something we’ve all been waiting for. It’s a lot more fun playing intense games now and hopefully be part of a cool experience here.”

Seider engaged in his first NHL fight against the Predators, squaring off against Forsberg.

“Just battling for the puck and got crosschecked and we got the best of our emotions,” Seider said. “It was pretty enjoyable for everyone. It’s a lot of emotion in that game.”

What the Red Wings couldn’t do was snap the Predators’ franchise-record 17-game point streak.

“You want to win every game but what you’re looking for is playing the game the right way,” Red Wings goaltender Alex Lyon said. “Bring your best and have a good effort and it felt like we had that.”

The Capitals are coming off a 3-0 home victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. Charlie Lindgren made 27 saves to record his fifth shutout this season.

The game was scoreless until John Carlson’s power-play goal early in the third period.

“We’re laying it on the line and it’s great,” Carlson said. “The guys coming together for this push is huge. It’s far from over, and we’ve got a lot more work to do.”

Alex Ovechkin scored the other two goals for Washington, giving him 26 for the season.

“Everybody understands the situation,” Ovechkin said. “That’s why we fight all year, in training camp. We want to finish the season. In two weeks, we want to keep playing.”

Capitals coach Spencer Carbery said he felt fortunate that his team didn’t give up a goal in the second period.

“The second wasn’t good at all,” Carbery said. “… Our group, when you talk to them and you look them in the eyes, that’s like, ‘Hey, we’re in game 70 now,’ and they sort of snapped out of it and were like, ‘Absolutely!’ And that’s probably our best period of the season (in the third).”

Washington will be looking to avenge an 8-3 loss at Detroit on Feb. 27, a season high in goals for a Capitals opponent. That finished off a six-game winning streak for the Red Wings, just prior to their current slide.

–Field Level Media

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