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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final

Playoff Pulse: Caps fall short in Carolina

Monday, 02.20.2012 / 10:51 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Washington Capitals had a golden opportunity to move back into playoff position Tuesday night.

No such luck.

The Caps were blown out by the Carolina Hurricanes in a 5-0 loss at the RBC Center. Washington could have pulled even with the Florida Panthers in the Southeast Division at 65 points apiece, while also moving ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Both Florida and Toronto were idle Monday.

Washington wasn't the only team to fail Monday -- the New York Islanders were also shut out in a horrid 6-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Isles could have moved within four points of Toronto with a victory. Instead, they were blanked for the 10th time this season.

Here's a look at how the races in each conference shape up after Monday's games:

Eastern Conference

Division leaders

New York Rangers (81 points) were idle Monday. They return to action on Tuesday night at Pittsburgh.

Boston (72 points) did not play Monday. The Bruins continue their six-game road trip -- they are 1-2-0 thus far -- on Wednesday night at St. Louis.

Florida (65 points) remains in sole possession of first place in the Southeast thanks to Washington's loss at Carolina.  The Panthers are idle until Thursday, when they'll host Minnesota.

The next five:

New Jersey (72 points)
was off Monday. The Devils, who are 8-1-1 in their last 10, will visit Toronto on Tuesday night.

Philadelphia (71 points) did not play Monday. The Flyers will visit Winnipeg on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh (71 points) had a day off after Sunday's 6-2 loss at Buffalo. The Pens hope to rebound Tuesday night against the Rangers at Consol Energy Center.

Ottawa (70 points after Monday's 6-0 win against the Islanders) had been off since Wednesday, but showed no rust as the Sens dismantled the Isles at the Coliseum. Now just two points shy of the No. 4 seed, Ottawa will host Washington on Wednesday night.

Toronto (64 points) remains in eighth place thanks to Carolina's win against Washington. The Leafs will face the Devils on Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre.

On the outside looking in:

Winnipeg (64 points)
did not play Monday. The Jets will host Philadelphia on Tuesday at the MTS Centre.

Washington (63 points after Monday's 5-0 loss at Carolina)
failed to gain any ground in the conference after coming up empty against the Hurricanes. The Caps will visit Ottawa on Wednesday.

Tampa Bay (58 points) was off Monday. The Lightning will host Anaheim at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Tuesday.

New York Islanders (58 points after Monday's 6-0 loss to Ottawa) were no-shows against the Senators despite a big crowd at the Coliseum. No longer with games in hand on the Maple Leafs, the Isles get right back at it Tuesday night at Buffalo.

Montreal (58 points) was idle Monday. The Canadiens will host the Dallas Stars at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.

Western Conference

Division leaders:

Detroit (84 points) did not play Monday. The Wings will visit Chicago on Tuesday, when they'll hope to have Jimmy Howard back in the lineup.

Vancouver (82 points) was idle Monday. The Canucks will visit Nashville on Tuesday.

San Jose (69 points) was off Monday. The Sharks, who are in the midst of a stretch that features five games in eight days in five different cities, will visit Columbus on Tuesday.

The next five:

St. Louis (79 points)
did not play Monday. The Blues, who play 15 of their last 23 on the road, host Boston on Wednesday before beginning a six-game road trip.

Nashville (74 points) was idle Monday. The Preds will host Vancouver on Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena.

Chicago (71 points) did not play Monday. Chicago, which has won three straight after a long slump, will host Detroit on Tuesday.

Phoenix (67 points) was idle Monday. The Coyotes will host Los Angeles at Jobing.com Arena on Tuesday night.

Calgary (65 points) was also off Monday. The Flames return to action on Tuesday night against Edmonton at Scotiabank Saddledome.

On the outside looking in:

Los Angeles (65 points)
did not play Monday. The Kings will aim to avoid a three-game skid on Tuesday night at Phoenix.

Dallas (62 points) was idle Monday. The Stars will visit Montreal on Tuesday.

Colorado (62 points) is off until Wednesday night, when it will host Los Angeles at the Pepsi Center.

Minnesota (61 points) is idle until Thursday, when it will visit Florida.

Anaheim (60 points) continues its eight-game road trip on Tuesday at Tampa Bay.

Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery