As the race to eighth place and a playoff berth continues to heat up the Capitals are scoreboard watching. They are also looking to make a statement Coach Bruce Boudreau said, and get back to playing the way they did during their recent nine-game winning streak.

Last night, Buffalo beat the Rangers 1-0 to tie New York with 87 points. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes beat Montreal 6-2 and you can check the updated Eastern Conference standings here. The Capitals missed out on an opportnity to perhaps knock Carolina out of the race on Tuesday but Boudreau doesn’t want to let another game slip by either Thursday against Columbus, which doesn’t have a playoff position to play for, or against the Sabres, who could be a first round opponent.

So with five regular-season games left and only one remaining against a team currently in playoff position, Boudreau was asked if it was easier to play against only those teams left fighting to get in.

“It shouldn’t matter because we have something to play for,” Boudreau said. “We’re playing Carolina, there’s a chance we could play them in the playoffs. We had a chance of knocking them out pretty well yesterday and we didn’t do it. We’ve got Buffalo, there’s a chance if the cards fall right that we could play them in the first round. Those are big games. Heck, there’s still a chance that you could end up playing Toronto... All of these games are important to us. We want to go in playing the best we can.

“I think we had a really great stretch of 10 games, 11 games there then we sort of slid a little bit and got by but didn’t play as good,” Boudreau continued. “We want to get back, our last five games, to playing the best we can play.”

--If you haven’t already, check out the latest project from the folks at Media Chameleon capturing this year’s Winter Classic..

--Who will be the goaltender, or goaltenders, that help the Capitals to a long playoff run? [Washington Times]

--For those scoreboard watching and pondering playoff matchups, Ryan Miller missed the Sabres’ game last night with an injury. [The Buffalo News]

--Are the New York Rangers the East’s stealth Cup contender? [Puck Daddy]

--Sidney Crosby has been cleared for non-contact practices. [Pittsburgh Tribune Review]