March 31, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle (83) scores a goal on Montreal Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj (30) in the first period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
So a more-down-than-up Saturday eventually saw the Capitals take an admittedly hard-fought but remarkably enjoyable to watch game over a surprisingly plucky Canadiens squad in the shootout (3-2), while Toronto management got precisely what they probably didn't want with a 4-3 regulation victory over the so-far-resilient Buffalo Sabres. Where do these final scores leave the Florida Panthers as they prep for matinee action against the Red Wings Sunday?
- Panthers: 90P/4GR - 37-25-16 - 31 regulation+overtime wins ("ROW"; first tiebreaker which WSH will hold to the end). Games remaining: @ DET (97P), vs WPG (3-1-1), @ WSH (2-3), vs CAR (4-1); 9-5-1 vs upcoming opponents (no record vs Wings in 2011-12). Competing for Southeast Division championship or remaining Eastern playoff spot.
- Capitals: 88P/3GR - 40-31-8 - 36 ROW. Games remaining: @ TB (3-1-1), vs FLA (3-2), @ NYR (1-2); 7-5-1 vs upcoming opponents. Competing for Southeast Division championship or remaining Eastern playoff spot.
- Sabres: 86P/3GR - 38-31-10 - 31 ROW. Games remaining: vs TOR (2-3), @ PHI (0-2-1), @ BOS (2-2-1); 4-7-2 vs upcoming opponents. Competing for final Eastern playoff spot only.
Nothing's predictable in this crazy league - just ask Columbus a day ago - but Florida retains command of their own destiny with a victory in Detroit. Did I type that casually enough?