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Posted at 12:01 PM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Capitals: a sign of (good) things to come?

By LaVar Arrington

The Capitals had a big game against the Florida Panthers Sunday night, with Alexander Semin scoring 48 seconds into overtime to give them a 3-2 victory. The game may have been a glimpse of what's to come in the playoffs.

The Capitals are in first place for the first time since Dec. 29. Washington has 82 points, one more than Tampa Bay heading into their showdown Monday night in Tampa.

Caps fans remember the last time Tampa and Washington played. The Caps executed their game plan perfectly, getting the win. But fans also remember the shutouts at the hands of the Lightning.

Monday night's game is very important. A win would go a very long way toward building the team's confidence for the playoffs. It would also be seven wins out of the last eight games, which is quite impressive.

Here are the other positive signs from Sunday's victory:

There was a Nicklas Backstrom sighting, for one. He and Boyd Gordon scored goals, helping the Capitals take the Southeast Division lead.

Goalie Michal Neuvirth made 32 saves in the win, extending his Capitals rookie record with his 22nd victory. If he can manage to stay healthy, defensively the Caps should be in great shape heading into the playoffs.

The question still remains, will they have enough offense to make a deep run in the playoffs?

Monday night's game may give us a clearer perspective. Let's also keep in mind that winning is winning, and if this style of play is the key to a successful playoffs run, then I'm sure Capitals fans will be happier with low scoring games rather then having offensive explosions with losses attached to them.

The Panthers have lost five straight games, so it was an important win Sunday to re-gain that number one spot. Tampa Bay will be a measuring stick game.

By LaVar Arrington  | March 7, 2011; 12:01 PM ET
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Good Old Lavar with the Hockey knowledge.

Awesome #56 - Keep it up.

Lets Go Caps!!!!

Posted by: ballgame21 | March 7, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

If, as Arrington said, tonight was a "measuring stick" game, the win is made even more impressive by the fact that almost two-thirds of the game was played without Backstrom. (Anyone have an update on his health?)

Braden Holtby was unbelievable.

Posted by: DC2Dallas | March 7, 2011 10:25 PM | Report abuse

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