HOLTBY'S SHUTOUT HELPS CAPITALS WRAP UP PRESIDENTS' TROPHY
Braden Holtby made 24 saves to help the Washington Capitals (54-18-8, 116 points) clinch the Metropolitan Division title, Eastern Conference, Presidents' Trophy and the No. 1 overall seed in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
* The Capitals, who are 10-1-1 in their past 12 games, claimed the Presidents' Trophy for the second straight season and third time in franchise history (2009-10 and 2015-16). Only two other clubs have won the Presidents' Trophy at least three times since its inception in 1985-86: the Detroit Red Wings (6) and Rangers (3).
* This marks the 10th division title for Washington and the fourth time that the club has secured the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference (2009-10, 2010-11 and 2015-16).
* Holtby registered his ninth shutout of the season (62 GP) to regain the League lead and equal a franchise record set by Jim Carey in 1995-96 (71 GP) and tied by Holtby in 2014-15 (73 GP). He also moved into sole possession of the League lead with his 42nd win of 2016-17.
Video: Williams, Holtby help Caps seal Presidents' Trophy
Home Team in Caps
BUFFALO 2, Montreal 1
WASHINGTON 2, NY Rangers 0
DID YOU KNOW?
The Capitals posted their 12th shutout of the season as they continue their pursuit of the William M. Jennings Trophy, which is awarded "to the goalkeeper(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against it."
Washington has allowed 179 goals against to lead the League, five fewer than the Columbus Blue Jackets (184). The Montreal Canadiens (194), Los Angeles Kings (195), San Jose Sharks (196) and Anaheim Ducks (197) are the only other clubs with fewer than 200 goals against in 2016-17.
TWO OF EIGHT MATCHUPS DETERMINED FOR FIRST ROUND
Two matchups for the First Round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs were determined via Wednesday's results:
* The Rangers are locked into the first wild card in the Eastern Conference and a first-round series against the Canadiens, the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Division. This marks their 16th postseason meeting (NYR: 8, MTL: 7) and second in the past four years. In the 2014 Eastern Conference Final, Henrik Lundqvist had a series-clinching shutout in Game 6 to lead New York past Montreal and into the Stanley Cup Final.
* The Pittsburgh Penguins and Blue Jackets are guaranteed to meet in the opening round for the second time - Pittsburgh defeated Columbus in six games in the 2014 First Round, a series that included two overtime victories by the Blue Jackets. The Penguins lead the Blue Jackets by three points in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Metropolitan Division and home ice in the opening round.
The Capitals extended a franchise record with their League-leading 32nd home win of the season. … The Buffalo Sabres closed their home schedule with a victory against the Canadiens, the top seed in the Atlantic Division. … Sabres forward Jack Eichel (0-1-1) established career highs for assists (33) and points (57) in a season, despite playing in 59 games in 2016-17. … Canadiens forward Alexander Radulov extended his point streak to five games (3-3-6). … Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand will have a hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety this morning for spearing Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin. … Ilkka Sinisalo, who played in the Stanley Cup Final twice for the Philadelphia Flyers during his 11 NHL seasons, died in his native Finland on Wednesday at age 58.
SNEAK PEEK AT THURSDAY'S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Ottawa @ Boston, 7 p.m., NBCSN, NESN, TSN5, RDS
Pittsburgh @ New Jersey, 7 p.m., SN360, MSG+, ROOT
NY Islanders @ Carolina, 7 p.m., FS-CR, MSG+ 2
Winnipeg @ Columbus, 7 p.m., FS-O, TSN3
Tampa Bay @ Toronto, 7:30 p.m., TVA Sports, TSN4, FS-F
St. Louis @ Florida, 7:30 p.m., FS-F, FS-MW
Nashville @ Dallas, 8:30 p.m., FS-SW, FS-TN
Minnesota @ Colorado, 9 p.m., ALT, FS-N
Vancouver @ Arizona, 10 p.m., FS-A PLUS, SNP
Chicago @ Anaheim, 10 p.m., NBCSN, CSN-CH
Calgary @ Los Angeles, 10:30 p.m., SN360, FS-W
Edmonton @ San Jose, 10:30 p.m., NBCS CA+, SNW
FINAL TWO PLAYOFF POSITIONS UP FOR GRABS ON 12-GAME NIGHT
The final two spots in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs could be determined on Thursday as all four teams in the running take the ice:
* The Ottawa Senators (42-27-10, 94 points), who would clinch a playoff spot by earning a point, head to Boston to take on the Bruins (44-30-6, 94 points), who wrapped up their spot in the postseason on Tuesday. The game will be broadcast in the U.S. on NBCSN as part of a doubleheader; in the second half, the Ducks (44-23-13, 101 points) aim to inch closer to the Pacific Division title when they host the Chicago Blackhawks (50-22-8, 108 points), who have already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference.
* In Toronto, the Tampa Bay Lightning (39-30-10, 88 points) look to keep their playoff hopes alive as they face off against the Maple Leafs (39-25-15, 93 points), who need only one point to wrap up a playoff berth. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Toronto's Auston Matthews (39-28-67) is one goal shy of becoming the fourth rookie in NHL history to score 40 goals in a season before celebrating his 20th birthday.
* The New York Islanders (38-29-12, 88 points), the first team outside the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, aim to stay in the postseason hunt when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes (35-30-14, 84 points). New York has won three straight games overall and five of its past six on the road.
NCAA FROZEN FOUR BEGINS TODAY
The NCAA Frozen Four begins today at United Center in Chicago:
Semifinal 1 -- Harvard vs. Minnesota-Duluth (6 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Semifinal 2 -- Denver vs. Notre Dame (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)