For the first time since the 2006-07 season, the Washington Capitals will not reach the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Capitals were mathematically eliminated from reaching the postseason Wednesday night when the Detroit Red Wings earned a point for their shootout loss in Pittsburgh and the Columbus Blue Jackets captured two with a win at Dallas. Those results gave each team 91 points, which is the maximum Washington could acquire if it was to win its final three games. But because the Capitals don’t hold the first tiebreaker of more combined regulation and overtime wins, they have been ousted from the race.
This postseason absence ends the Capitals’ stretch of six consecutive appearances in the playoffs, which was tied for the fourth longest active streak in the NHL entering this year. Only Detroit (22), San Jose (9), Pittsburgh (7) and Boston (6) had as many or more, but all four of those teams will add another season to their totals having all clinched playoff berths.
It also marks a low point in the Alex Ovechkin era, considering that the star winger only sat out from the playoffs his first two years in the NHL. A day after becoming just the 11th player in league history to record five 50-goal seasons, Ovechkin will have an early summer with plenty of questions facing the Capitals as they determine how to get back on track after an inconsistent year.