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Holtby helps Caps move two ahead of Bolts

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Braden Holtby wasn't supposed to play for the Washington Capitals on Monday night, but he ended up helping his club move two points ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning thanks to a 2-1 shootout victory at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Forced into duty at the start of the second period, Holtby stopped all 21 shots he faced over the final 45 minutes, then denied all three chances in the shootout as the Caps retained control of the Southeast Division and picked up another point on Tampa Bay in the process.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars rallied from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits en route to a 4-3 overtime victory at Los Angeles. The win allowed the Stars to move into fifth place in the Western Conference.

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

Eastern Conference

Division leaders

Philadelphia (86 points) was idle Monday, likely still feeling the effects of Sunday’s 7-0 loss to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday. With just a two-point lead atop the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division, the Flyers will try to stop the skid on Tuesday against Edmonton at the Wells Fargo Center.

Boston (84 points) was idle on Monday. The Bruins, who trail Philadelphia by just two points for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, visit Montreal on Tuesday night. The Habs trail Boston by five points in the Northeast Division.

Washington (84 points after Monday’s 2-1 shootout win at Tampa Bay) moved two points ahead of the Lightning in the Southeast Division and pulled within two points of the No. 2 seed in the East. The Caps begin a three-game homestand on Wednesday against Edmonton.

The next five:

Pittsburgh (84 points), which was off Monday, remains just two points behind Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division.  The Penguins host Buffalo on Tuesday night.

Tampa Bay (82 points) failed to regain control of the Southeast Division on Monday night, but the Bolts did earn a valuable point in their shootout loss. Winless in four straight, the Lightning host Chicago on Wednesday.

Montreal (79 points) was idle on Monday. The Canadiens continue their pursuit of the Northeast Division leading Bruins on Tuesday night, when they’ll host Boston at the Bell Centre.

New York Rangers (74 points) did not play Monday.  The Blueshirts begin a two-game trip to California on Wednesday at Anaheim.

Buffalo (72 points), which moved into a playoff spot Sunday, was idle on Monday. The Sabres, who are 6-0-1 in their last seven road games, will look to make it three in a row on Tuesday at Pittsburgh.

On the outside looking in:

Carolina (71 points) doesn't play until Wednesday – meaning that all the 'Canes can do is sit and hope for help.

Toronto (67 points) was idle on Monday.  The Leafs return to action on Tuesday night against the Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

Atlanta (65 points) did not play Monday.  The Thrashers are off until a must-win game at Carolina on Wednesday.

New Jersey (64 points), which has won four in a row, was idle Monday. The Devils will aim to make it five straight on Tuesday, when they host Ottawa at the Prudential Center.

Western Conference

Division leaders:

Vancouver (93 points) was idle Monday. It takes a seven-point lead atop the Western Conference into Tuesday's match at Phoenix.

Detroit (86 points) was off on Monday. Losers of three straight (0-1-2), the Red Wings host Los Angeles on Wednesday.

San Jose (82 points) was idle Monday. The Sharks, who had their eight-game winning streak snapped by Dallas on Saturday, will host Nashville on Tuesday night.

The next five:

Chicago (80 points) did not play Monday. The Blackhawks, who have won eight in a row to move into fourth place, visit Florida on Tuesday and Tampa Bay on Wednesday.

Dallas (79 points after Monday's 4-3 overtime win at Los Angeles) moved into fifth place as it rallied to beat the Kings in overtime at the Staples Center. The Stars now return to the Lone Star State, where they'll begin a seven-game homestand on Wednesday against Calgary.

Calgary (79 points) was also off Monday.  Winners in seven of their last 10 games, the Flames visit Dallas on Wednesday night.

Phoenix (78 points) was idle Monday. The Coyotes, who trail San Jose by four points for the Pacific Division lead, host Vancouver on Tuesday.

Los Angeles (77 points) failed to hang on to leads Monday night, but it did manage to earn a valuable point in the standings in a 4-3 overtime loss to Dallas at the Staples Center.  L.A. now plays its next four games on the road, starting on Wednesday at Detroit.

On the outside looking in:


Minnesota (75 points) moved into a virtual three-way tie for ninth place with Sunday’s 3-2 overtime loss at Buffalo. The Wild, who were off Monday, will host Colorado on Tuesday in a game that can be seen on Versus in the U.S. and TSN2 in Canada.

Anaheim (75 points) was idle Monday. The Ducks, who had their three-game winning streak snapped on Sunday, host the Rangers on Wednesday night.

Nashville (75 points) was also off Monday. Just 3-5-2 in their last 10 games, the Predators visit San Jose on Tuesday before starting a five-game homestand.

Columbus (71 points after Monday night's 5-4 shootout win against St. Louis) finished a five-game road trip and pulled within four points of ninth place. The Blue Jackets finish a home-and-home series with the Blues on Wednesday at Nationwide Arena.

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