The Capitals believe that Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime win against the Bruins will provide them with more than a desperately-needed two points in the standings.
For one thing, Washington is now 7-3-0 in its past 10 games and is coming off a shutout of Winnipeg and a comeback victory over Boston, which has the second-most points in the Eastern Conference. That puts confidence at a high entering Thursday’s home contest against the Panthers, the only team below the Capitals in the conference.
“We know this week and last week are very crucial to putting us in a spot to make the playoffs,” forward Troy Brouwer said at Wednesday’s optional skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “If we lose any more ground, it’s going to be kind of hopeless going forward.
“Big win a couple days ago against Winnipeg, huge win last night, and Florida had a good win last night as well. The guys’ confidence is up right now, and we need points and going forward, another big divisional game tomorrow night. Guys are excited right now, real excited to be at the rink.”
While the Capitals are languishing near the bottom of the standings, they are within five points of the eighth playoff seed. Thursday’s game is the first of three in a four-day span.
“The schedule doesn’t let up, so you’ve got to try to win every way you can and keep playing well,” Capitals Coach Adam Oates said. “We’ve got a tough schedule now, that’s why [today’s practice] was an optional. Guys need rest, guys are banged up. Every team’s going through it, and you’ve just to stay the course.”
The surge from Tuesday’s win could help offset any fatigue.
The Capitals trailed 3-0 after one period, pulled within a goal in the second and tied it up on Wojtek Wolski’s shot at 13:55 of the third. Eric Fehr’s sprawling goal 37 seconds into overtime gave Washington a win that defenseman Tom Poti said it could use “as a stepping stone.”
“It’s huge for our confidence to come back against a team like the Bruins, who are one of the top teams in the East,” Poti said. “And down 3-0 with two periods left to play, to come back, I think it was a big emotional win for us, and I think it can lift our spirits and get our swagger back a little bit by saying, ‘We’re down 3-0, big deal, it doesn’t matter.’”
Now it’s on the Capitals to carry that into Thursday night.
“You’ve got to turn the page,” Oates said. “It’s a new game tomorrow, and we’re right back at it.”