Updated, 10 p.m.: After a convincing 4-1 victory over the Eastern Conference leading Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the Capitals will face the No. 2 Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs.
Washington scored three first-period goals and 22-year-old Braden Holtby made 35 saves to outshine New York netminder Henrik Lundqvist and ensure that the Capitals wouldn’t face the Rangers as the eighth seed.
There was an outside chance that Washington would clinch its fifth straight Southeast title and the third seed, but the Panthers easily beat Carolina, 4-1, to win their first division crown. They will face New Jersey in the first round.
The Capitals and Bruins will likely begin their series Thursday at TD Garden (full schedule is out tomorrow). Washington is 3-1 against Boston this season, including a 3-2 shootout victory on March 29. The team have faced each other twice before in the playoffs, with the Bruins sweeping the Wales Conference finals in 1990 and the Capitals taking the ‘98 quarterfinal series in six games.
After the jump, here’s how the rest of the playoff matchups will shake out:
1. N.Y. Rangers vs. 8. Ottawa
2. Boston vs. 7. Washington
3. Florida vs 6. New Jersey
4. Pittsburgh vs. 5. Philadelphia
1. Vancouver vs. 8. Los Angeles
2. St. Louis vs. 7. San Jose
3. Phoenix vs. 6. Chicago
4. Nashville vs. 5. Detroit
More to come soon.