New York, NY (Sports Network) - The Washington Capitals scored a trio of first-period goals and rode that momentum to a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers.
Nicklas Backstrom added his first goal since returning from a concussion in the second period for the Capitals (42-32-8), who will finish as the Eastern Conference's seventh seed and face off against the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins in the opening round of the playoffs if Florida beats Carolina on Saturday.
If the Hurricanes were to win, Washington would clinch its fifth straight Southeast Division crown and meet New Jersey in the first round.
With Michal Neuvirth out of the lineup, Braden Holtby started Washington's season finale and made 35 saves. Neuvirth was hurt in the second period Thursday when the Panthers' Marco Sturm fell on his left leg. It's uncertain how much time Neuvirth will miss.
Henrik Lundqvist allowed four goals on just 17 shots for the top-seeded Rangers (51-24-7), who will host either Ottawa or the Panthers in the playoffs.
Despite losing three of its last four games, New York can still secure the Presidents' Trophy as the regular season's best team for the first time since 1993-94 if Vancouver loses to Edmonton in regulation later Saturday.