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Pregame Skate: Capitals look to gain more ground in division race

By Adam Gretz | Hockey writer
The Pregame Skate is back. Every morning for the rest of the season we're going to take a look at the games that have the greatest significance in the push for the postseason for you to digest while you drink your java. We'll throw in some miscellany for the fun of it.

LightningCAPITALS7:30 ET, Washington at Tampa Bay: At the start of the season it wouldn't have been an unreasonable thought to think that this game might be for the Southeast Division title. It still kind of is, in a way, but for only one team involved in the game.

Due to Tampa Bay's season-long struggles, the Lightning are already mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but it's still a big game for the Capitals as they look to extend their lead over Buffalo for the No. 8 spot, and potentially gain more ground on the Florida Panthers in the divisional race.

With a win, the Capitals would move four points ahead of Buffalo and pull to within one point of the Panthers ahead of Thursday's potentially enormous game with Florida on Thursday. The Panthers late season struggles have kept Washington in the race, and the door is still open a crack for the Capitals to kick it in.

In the five previous meetings between the Capitals and Lightning this season Washington owns a 3-1-1 record.

RIGHTKINGS10:30 ET, Edmonton at Los Angeles: This is a pretty huge game for Los Angeles as it attempts to win its first division title since the 1990-91 season.

If the Kings can beat Edmonton at home on Monday night, they will open up a three-point lead over the San Jose Sharks.

And it's kind of important that they're able to do that seeing as how the Kings final two games of the regular season are against ... the Sharks. Every possible point they can pick up before that season-ending home-and-home split is going to be big, not only so the Kings can potentially win the division, but also so they can simply make the playoffs.

The Kings have been one of the best teams in the NHL over the past month, but as has been pointed out before, the makeup of the Western Conference this season and the tight races taking place have made it so the Kings could just as easily miss the playoffs as they could finish with a top-three seed.

Your Promised Miscellany

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
 
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