Alex Ovechkin ended his 10-game goalless drought and the Washington Capitals snapped a four-game losing skid on Tuesday night. But the big takeaway from the 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild was that it put the Capitals back at the top of the NHL standings.

That’s not just a bragging rights type of accomplishment.

Winning the Presidents’ Trophy this year matters. It means getting to play the lower wild-card team in the first round of the playoffs. That’s a much, much better prospect than facing the Pittsburgh Penguins or Columbus Blue Jackets, who not only own the second- and third-best records in the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference, but also in the entire league.

That the Penguins and Blue Jackets would have to play each other if the season ended today is a bit kooky. But to be honest, I don’t know what’s sillier: that two of the top three teams in the NHL could be first-round opponents, or that two of the top three teams will be gone after the second round because of the division-focused playoff format the NHL introduced in 2014.

The playoff format has become a reverse meritocracy this year.

The best division this year by far is the Metropolitan, currently with the top three teams in the NHL. The Capitals lead the NHL with 97 points, the Penguins are second with 95 points and the Blue Jackets are third with 94 points. Even the fourth-best team in the division, the New York Rangers, has the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference.

But rather than seed those teams based on wins and losses and how well they have performed, the NHL three years ago re-aligned its conferences and instituted a playoff structure that plays up divisional battles.

Because the top team in each division gets awarded the No. 1 and 2 seed in the conference, the Rangers (fourth-most points in the conference) would enter the playoffs as the seventh seed if the season were to end today. Coincidentally, they would still play the Montreal Canadiens (fifth-most points) in the first round. Except under the new format, the Habs would have home-ice advantage because they are the best team in the Atlantic Division.