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The Capitals ended a five-game road swing with a late-night 2-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on Friday as the season reached its final week.
The Capitals are now 44-23-11 on the season with just four games left to play. Here are a few takeaways from the night in the desert:
One is (almost) the loneliest number
Sheary's rebound goal in the first period gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead. As it turned out, there wouldn't be any other red lights for almost the remainder of the game. John Carlson's empty-net goal with less than a minute left to play put the finishing touches on the night
It was the eighth time the Capitals had shut out an opponent this season.
The Capitals controlled play for the majority of the night and outshot the Coyotes 29-19, but Sheary's goal was all they needed.
Vanecek gets the net
After a few games of Ilya Samsonov, coach Peter Laviolette and the Capitals turned to Vitek Vanecek in net to start against the league-worst Coyotes.
He stopped all 19 shots the Coyotes sent his direction, as he earned his fourth shutout of the season in another data point for the Capitals to use when determining their start for Game 1 of the playoffs.
With four games left to play, Vanecek and Samsonov will likely have just two games each to make their case as the team's No. 1 netminder. Friday's performance, albeit against the lowly Coyotes, was a positive step for Vanecek.
The Capitals concluded their five-game road trip, the longest road swing of the season, with a needed win over the Coyotes which brought their road trip record to 3-1-1.
The lone regulation loss came on the first game of the trip, which was a 7-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Since then, though, the Capitals earned seven points out of a possible eight to keep their hopes of moving out of the second wild card spot alive.
The final week
At this time next week, the Capitals’ regular season will be complete and their playoff opponent will be known. While it could be known sooner, the odds of the season coming down to the last day of the regular season grow increasingly likely each day.
The Capitals have four games left, two of which will be played at home. They have a point to make up on the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hold the tiebreaker over the Capitals right now. The Capitals are tied with the Boston Bruins, who have both a game in hand as well as the tiebreakers.
With a bevy of scenarios still possible, Washington isn’t in control of its destiny in terms of playoff opponent with just a week left in the regular season.