Washington Capitals: Why 3-Game Winning Streak Shows the Caps Can Make Playoffs

Barry LeonardAnalyst IIIMarch 8, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 05:  Eric Fehr #16 of the Washington Capitals celebrates with teammates Alex Ovechkin #8 and Jay Beagle #83 after scoring the game winning goal in overtime to beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 at Verizon Center on March 5, 2013 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Washington Capitals are now enjoying the feeling of victory, something that hasn't come easy during the shortened 2013 NHL season. The Caps are currently on a three-game winning streak and have won five of the last six games.

In a season of ups and mostly downs, things finally seem to be clicking in our nation's capital.

Fans in DC have been on edge all season. A team that was supposed to compete for the Stanley Cup has instead struggled out of the gate and spent the entire year near the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

However, solid play over the last few games has helped the Caps to begin a slow climb up the standings.

During the current win streak, Washington has defeated the Winnipeg Jets, Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers. Each victory showed that the Caps are capable of turning the season around and winning different types of games.

On the road against the Jets, Washington played an excellent game, blanking the home team 3-0 behind a stellar performance from goalie Braden Holtby. The young netminder stopped all 35 shots that he faced.

It was an impressive victory against a division foe in a tough building.

The win came on the heels of an ugly 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, proving that the Caps are able to bounce back after a poor performance. That's something that's important when trying to make a playoff push.

Following the win over Winnipeg, Washington found itself in a tough situation at home against the Boston Bruins. The Caps came out slow and quickly gave up three first-period goals.

However, instead of giving up, they fought hard and scored four unanswered goals en route to a 4-3 victory. The determination showed against Boston is exactly what Washington will need moving forward in 2013.

The most recent win came on Thursday night over the Florida Panthers. The Caps benefited from both an offensive explosion and continued solid play from Holtby in net. Washington defeated Florida by a score of 7-1 in easily its best overall performance of the year.

Against the Panthers, fans got a glimpse of what they were hoping 2013 would look like. The high-octane offense of head coach Adam Oates finally broke out and showed what can happen when everything clicks.

The coach has to be happy that the scoring has been coming from sources other than the big names in his lineup. Sure, team leaders Alex Ovechkin and Mike Riberio have been involved in the offense, but so have guys like John Erskine, Wojtek Wolski and Eric Fehr.

While there's still two months left in the season and a lot can change, the Washington Capitals have to like the direction they are heading. Recent games have showed both the ability to dominate and the mental toughness that is needed to succeed in the face of adversity.

If Oates and his team are able to keep the momentum going and continue to improve each day, the once miserable season could wind up turning into something special.