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Caps grab final playoff spot with win over Flyers

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on Tuesday to snatch the NHL's final playoff spot.

The Capitals' win eliminated the Flyers, Detroit Red Wings, and Pittsburgh Penguins from postseason contention.

Washington will play the Presidents' Trophy-winning New York Rangers in Round 1.

T.J. Oshie scored the game-winner on an empty net late in the third period. The Flyers pulled the goalie with the contest tied because they would've been eliminated if it went to overtime.

But little did the Flyers know they'd already been eliminated moments earlier when the Red Wings secured a point against the Montreal Canadiens with David Perron's late equalizer.

Flyers head coach John Tortorella explained how the situation unfolded from his end.

"I get info on the Detroit game right after (Capitals) scored their empty-netter," Tortorella told reporters postgame. "I think it happened pretty close together. But I'm pulling him. That was the right time to pull him. I didn't know anything was going on with Detroit at the time, but immediately after that, our video guys told us that Detroit just went to overtime."

Alex Ovechkin was pleased with the result.

"Detroit get a point, and they still pull the goalie," the Capitals captain said postgame, per The Associated Press. "They didn't know that. But we'll take it. Thanks, Philly."

Detroit ended up beating Montreal in a shootout, but its postseason drought still extended to eight years - the NHL's second-worst active skid - because the club has fewer regulation wins than the Capitals. If the Flyers had won the game in any fashion, the Red Wings would've been postseason-bound.

GP Team Points RW
82 Capitals (X) 91 32
82 Red Wings 91 27
81 Penguins 88 32
82 Flyers 87 30

The Penguins are missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in Sidney Crosby's 19-year career. Pittsburgh didn't earn a postseason spot in Crosby's rookie campaign and didn't miss again until 2022-23.

The Flyers will be without playoff hockey for the fourth straight year.

The Capitals have made the playoffs in 15 of Ovechkin's 19 seasons. Their minus-37 goal differential is the worst by a playoff team since the Hartford Whalers (minus-38) and Vancouver Canucks (minus-72) in 1990-91.

Washington's matchup with the Rangers means the Caps will face their former coach, Peter Laviolette. The veteran bench boss coached the Capitals for the last three years before New York hired him this past offseason.

The Rangers and Capitals haven't met in the playoffs since 2015.

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