Make room in the playoffs for MVP front-runner Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. Tomas Fleischmann, Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Semin scored for the Capitals, who clinched the Southeast Division title with a 3-1 victory over the Florida Panthers last night. The win was also the Capitals' seventh straight. The Capitals needed only 4 1/2 months to go from worst in the NHL to Southeast Division champions.
The Capitals finished last in the Southeast each of the last three seasons and were still there as late as Dec. 30, but their steady climb had already begun. They ended the regular season by winning 11 of 12 and 14 of 18 and became the first NHL team to make the playoffs after sitting at 14th or 15th in the conference at the halfway mark.