The Capitals catch Carolina
Originally uploaded by christopher.creamer
And finishing third is now a more real possibility than squeaking into eighth.
Both Carolina and Washington have two games remaining, and both face already eliminated Tampa Bay and Florida at home. Carolina's final game of the season is Friday night against the Panthers; Washington gets the cats from Sunrise the next night to close their schedule.
Under Bruce Boudreau, Washington's been 35-17-7, 77 points in 59 games or the equivalent of a 107-point campaign over 82 games.
At that rate, they'd be the best team in the Eastern Conference this season, and behind just Detroit and San Jose in the NHL standings.
Yet, still, they're on the outside looking in (given the 'Canes hold the tiebreaker).
That 6-14-1 hole posted with Glen Hanlon as coach looms large. But Washington has whipped off five wins in a row, and nine in its past 10 games, with Cristobal Huet allowing just nine goals in his past five starts.
They're red hot, and all that stands between themselves and the postseason are the Lightning and Panthers.
Can they do it?