With a spot in the postseason secured, the Washington Capitals are focusing on winning the Southeast Division title.
The Capitals trail the Lightning by three points for the top spot in the division with three games remaining for each club. The winner of the Southeast will secure home-ice advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Washington earned a point in its third straight game Saturday, coming back from a two-goal deficit in the third period before losing 4-3 in overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It was a big game for us,” Caps defenseman Sergei Gonchar said. “We looked at the scoreboard from time to time to see how Tampa did. We definitely want to win our division to clinch home-ice advantage in the first round.”
Washington ended its six-game road trip with a 3-2-0-1 mark, and will play its last three regular-season games at home.
“Some teams might have the luxury to take a break or rest some bodies, but we’ll play to the end,” Washington forward Peter Bondra said. “It’s definitely a big difference when you win the division and get home-ice advantage.”
Florida could’ve done Washington a huge favor on Saturday, but allowed Tampa Bay to score the tying goal with 36.1 seconds, settling for a 1-1 tie.
“I can’t catch a break,” Florida goalie Roberto Luongo said. “The guy tips it, it goes off the ice and it goes off the crossbar and in. How lucky can you get? It’s been like that all year.”
The draw snapped the Panthers’ five-game losing streak.
STANDINGS: Panthers - 68 points, 3rd place (tied), 22 PB, Southeast Division. Capitals - 88 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Olli Jokinen, 35 goals and 64 points; Viktor Kozlov, 32 assists; Peter Worrell, 187 PIM. Capitals - Jaromir Jagr, 36 goals and 74 points; Gonchar, 47 assists; Brendan Witt, 106 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through March 30): Panthers - Power play: 14.3 percent (48 for 335), 23rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.2 percent (280 for 345), 28th. Capitals - Power play: 17.4 percent (56 for 322), 12th. Penalty killing: 81.1 percent (305 for 376), 29th.
SEASON SERIES: Capitals, 3-0-1.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 16-14-6-4 on the road; Capitals - 22-12-2-2 at home.