BALTIMORE—The Washington Capitals are locked in a three-way battle for the top spot in the NHL’s Metropolitan Division, but they came up with a big victory on March 24.
They scored one goal apiece from Tom Wilson, Travis Boyd and Jakub Vrana and outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 in Washington. That ended a two-game losing streak and kept the Capitals in first place for the moment.
That win gave Washington 96 points, and the New York Islanders moved to 95 later in the afternoon with a 2-0 victory over Arizona. Pittsburgh sat in waiting, three points back, ready to take the ice a day later.
After that game, Washington had just six game left in the schedule but still held on to first in the division by that one point over the Islanders, coached by former Capitals’ coach Barry Trotz, who led them to the Stanley Cup last spring.
The victory over the Flyers was a big one because Washington would have fallen out of first place with a loss, and could have tumbled to third if Pittsburgh won the next day. But the Capitals bounced back from a second period where the Flyers pushed hard and got 20 shots on goals but scored only once.
Washington held a 2-1 lead after two, and Vrana’s breakaway goal in the third sealed the deal as the Capitals played tough defense to hold on.
“You know what I liked from the game is I liked how we responded in the third,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “It was a better third for us. I liked how some of our leaders stepped to the front in the third period when things weren’t going great after the second.”
PLAYOFF HOPES FADE AS WIZARDS FALL TO MIAMI
A strong fourth quarter from Dwyane Wade in his final game in Washington handed the Wizards a 113-108 loss on March 23 and further dimmed the Wizards’ fading playoff hopes.
As many of the Washington fans at the home game held signs for Wade or wore his jerseys in the stands, the 37-year-old showed he’s still got some gas left in the tank. He scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter.
That helped Miami pull away from the Wizards and put them farther back in the race for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot – all but out of it.
Washington took the lead at different times during the game, but the Heat kept doing something to come back, and it eventually fell to Miami.
“They pretty much beat us,” said Washington guard Bradley Beal. “They beat us in every way possible – off the dribble, three-balls, offensive rebounds – everything that we said that they were going to beat us in, they pretty much deal.”
Jeff Green led Washington with 25 points in the loss.
RAVENS MAKE TWO KEY OFFSEASON MOVES
The Baltimore Ravens made a few free-agent moves last week by re-signing former Redskin quarterback Robert Griffin III to be the back-up to Lamar Jackson.
They agreed in principle to a two-year contract, with details not released. Since the Ravens are using a run-heavy option type offense now, Griffin is a perfect fit and he was the back-up to Jackson last season as Baltimore won the AFC North.
But the bigger move was the signing of safety Earl Thomas to a deal. Various media reports said it was a four-year, $55 million contract, and he fills a big hole in the Baltimore secondary.
Eric Weddle played safety this year, but even though he made the Pro Bowl, did not get an interception and the Ravens appeared to want more speed back there.
They also signed free-agent star Justin Bethel. He’s made the Pro Bowl three times on defense and can play cornerback, if necessary.