The Capitals playoff chances took a potentially serious blow last night with a 5-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center.
Buffalo now sits two points ahead of the Capitals in the standings for the Eastern Conferences' eighth and final playoff spot.
Each team has five games remaining on its schedule.
So, how serious are the Capitals chances of missing the playoffs?
In one instance not that serious. The Capitals are only two points behind the Sabres and have more non-shootout wins than the Sabres. So, should both teams finish tied in points, the Capitals would qualify for the playoffs.
But, based on remaining strength of schedule, the Sabres may have the upper hand.
Buffalo's final five games are at home against the Penguins and Maple Leafs with road contests against the Leafs, Flyers and Bruins.
On paper that looks tough as the Pens, Flyers and Bruinis are all going to finish in the top five of the Eastern Conference standings. But, the Sabres have won two of three meetings with the Penguins this season and are 2-2-1 against the Bruins.
The Sabres and Pens haven't met since Feb. 19 when Buffalo routed Pittsburgh 6-2, and will be facing Sidney Crosby for the first time this season.
The Leafs were officially eliminated from playoff contention last night and have only won 11 games since Jan. 13, so not an arduous task there.
Washington's remaining five games aren't much easier. They have road games against the Bruins, Lightning and Rangers and home games against the Canadiens and Panthers.
The Capitals have won two of three against the Bruins this season including a 4-3 in Boston on March 10. But, Boston has won five of its last six and are sure to be looking for revenge against the Capitals.
Washington is 3-1-1 against the Lightning this season, but both of the losses have come in Tampa.
Both remaining home games are very winnable as the Capitals are 3-0-0 against the Candiens this season with none of the games being particularly close.
Both home games versus the Panthers this season have also been blowouts by a combined 7-0 score.
Neither team has an easy schedule the final five games. Both teams have games against teams they have played well against this season and have winnable home games left.
But, the tougher road schedule goes to the Capitals and are in two buildings they haven't won in this season.
They haven't defied the odds, yet, this season.
Hopefully these last five games will be different.