WASHINGTON (AP) Dylan Strome has never gotten the chance to play playoff hockey in the NHL in front of sold-out crowds. Sure, once in the 2020 bubble when the stands were empty, but he doesn't really count that.

On Tuesday night in the closest he has ever felt to the real thing, Strome played as though he's ready for his drought to end. He scored twice, including the overtime winner, to give the Washington Capitals a massive 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in a pivotal matchup that could ultimately prove crucial in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

"Happy to chip in and contribute," Strome said after scoring his 24th and 25th goals of the season to set a career high. "It’s a lot of fun to play. Everyone wants to thrive in the big games and play games that really matter. It feels like that right now, and we’re trying our best.”

Behind 30 saves from Charlie Lindgren in another brilliant start, the Capitals moved two points ahead of Detroit and still have an extra game left to play. They’re also right on the heels of Philadelphia for third place in the Metropolitan Division after the Flyers lost in overtime at the New York Rangers.

Washington has won three in a row and five of six to improve its postseason position to the best it has been in recent weeks. There are 10 games left for the Caps to play this regular season as they attempt to get back in after failing to qualify last year.

“People are talking about the Caps,” Strome said. "Maybe people didn’t peg us to be a playoff team at the start of the season, but I think we’re proving a lot of people wrong right now.”

Strome and his teammates came to play in arguably the franchise's most meaningful game since 2022, with Lindgren making plenty of big stops and offense coming from all over the lineup. Fourth-liner Nic Dowd and Connor McMichael also scored, and they were eager to thank Lindgren for keeping them in it when the Red Wings were pressing.

“Chuck has given us an opportunity to win a lot of hockey games where we’ve had slow starts,” Dowd said. “Specifically tonight, I thought he gave us an opportunity to stay in that game.”

Detroit's Alex DeBrincat ended a 12-game goal drought, David Perron scored on the power play late in the second and Patrick Kane tied it with 5:20 left in the third.

“It’s kind of what Kane does, right?" said Strome, who played with Kane and DeBrincat in Chicago. “He scores those big goals.”

Kane's goal to get the game to overtime allowed the Red Wings to salvage a very important point, with the New York Islanders also chasing them.

“Maybe gripping our sticks a little too tight thinking about the moment too much,” captain Dylan Larkin said. “You see a guy like Kaner come back for us and score, a guy that’s been through it and played in big hockey games, it’s huge to see.”

Detroit losing a second in a row and for the 10th time in 13 games could ultimately harm its chances of making the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season. Nine games remain for coach Derek Lalonde's team to get back into a spot ahead of Philadelphia or Washington, with one more game against the Capitals left on the schedule back home April 9.


Red Wings: Continue their road trip Thursday night at the Carolina Hurricanes.

Capitals: Visit the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.


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