Sunday in Columbus, the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Blue Jackets 5-2. The victory marked the Penguins fifth-straight win, and you guys, I have some bad news.
With Washington sputtering, the Penguins (74 standings points) overtook the Capitals (73) and now lead the Metropolitan Division.
FIRST PLACE IN THE METROPOLITAN DIVISION! pic.twitter.com/DsMeeo0Hzp
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 19, 2018
Here’s how the standings look as of 11 PM Sunday.
The Capitals have been in first place since mid-December – a span of approximately two months. The Caps have won only five of their last ten games. The Penguins are 8-1-1 in the same span.
While the Capitals are only three points ahead of the New Jersey Devils, who own the first wildcard spot (7th seed) in the East, they have a relatively large cushion ahead of the New York Islanders (nine points) for the final wild card spot (8th seed).
One advantage the Caps (58 GP) do have is that they currently have three games in hand over the Penguins (61) and can jump back into first as soon as Monday afternoon with a President’s Day victory over the Buffalo Sabres. But if the Capitals continue their slide, their mid-season cushion will be erased and they could fall quickly down the standings, where the Metro has been very competitive this season.
One other note: If the playoffs started today, the Capitals and Penguins would play each other in the second round if both teams were fortunate enough to win their first-round series.
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