The Washington Capitals will continue their playoff push on Thursday night against another team in the thick of the postseason race as they play host to the New York Islanders.
The Capitals have put together a 5-1-1 record over their last seven games, with the lone regulation loss coming at home against the Islanders on March 26. Washington has pushed its point total to 36, two back of the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Southeast Division.
Washington was able to close that gap on Tuesday thanks to a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes as well as New York's 5-2 triumph over Winnipeg. The Isles won for the fifth time in six games and are tied with the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference with 39 points.
The Capitals are actually closer to first place in the division than the eighth spot in the conference as they trail the Rangers, Isles and Devils by three points.
"There's still a lot of games. We can't get too far ahead of ourselves," Caps coach Adam Oates said after the win over the Hurricanes. "Just like two weeks ago, we didn't look at the standings either. We just have to play our hockey and just keep improving. It's not going to be good enough to just play like this. We have to keep improving and worry about (the playoffs) later."
Washington's current run has been sparked by Alex Ovechkin, who had two goals and an assist in Tuesday's win. He has 20 goals on the season, with 10 tallies and 15 points over a nine-game point streak.
Mike Green also scored twice and Nicklas Backstrom assisted on four goals for Washington.
The Islanders find themselves still in the hunt thanks to their recent string of wins as well as season-long success on the road, where they are 11-5-1 this season. New York, though, took care of business on home ice Tuesday in downing Winnipeg.
Frans Nielsen snapped a tie game with a power-play goal in the final minute of the second period, while Matt Moulson and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist in the win. Tavares has scored a goal in six of his past eight games and is second in the NHL with 23 tallies.
Colin McDonald also tallied and Anders Lee added a goal in his NHL debut after signing a two-year entry-level contract on Monday. Kevin Poulin aided the cause with a 23-save effort.
"We got pucks to the net and that was the big thing," said Islanders head coach Jack Capuano. "After two periods we had close to 30 shots and that's the one thing that we wanted to try to accomplish tonight."
The Isles have won the first two of three meetings with the Capitals this season and four of the past six overall. They got a game-winning goal from Tavares with 5:18 left to play in the 3-2 victory at Washington on March 26.