Capitals squander opportunity against Flyers, know more desperate games lie ahead

April 1, 2013

(Paul Bereswill/Getty)

If there’s anything this weekend’s back-to-back games should have reminded the Capitals, it’s that with the regular season rapidly coming to a close and two points separating five teams from 8th to 12th place in the Eastern Conference, plenty more tight and desperate games lie ahead.

On Saturday night the Capitals clawed back from a two-goal deficit to force overtime and win in a shootout against Buffalo. Sunday night they were on the other side as Philadelphia fought back from two down en route to a 5-4 overtime win.

“When you’re up, you’ve got to be able to play with a lead, and when you’re down, you gotta show character and come back,” Mike Green said. “I’m sure we’ll see more of these games, most importantly we’ve got to start making sure we get the two points instead of just one.”

By falling in overtime to the Flyers, Washington allowed them to hang around on the playoff bubble rather than seizing an opportunity to push them further behind.

“We both are in tough positions,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “You’ve got to fight for your points until the end, and we didn’t do that.”

Said Braden Holtby: “If you win these games, you deserve to be in the playoffs. We have to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The Capitals (16-17-2, 34 points) sit one point behind the eighth-place New York Rangers and four back of Southeast Division-leading Winnipeg. But the Jets visit the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday night, so one of those teams will be coming away with two points and a larger lead on Washington.

Meantime, Carolina, one of four teams on the outside of the playoff picture frantically searching for a way in, visits Montreal on Monday night before returning home to host the Capitals on Tuesday. The Hurricanes are tied with Washington with 34 points but have played two fewer games.

Over the next six games, the Capitals will play bubble teams like themselves three times – Carolina twice and the New York Islanders once – contests that carry extra weight because of the opportunity to gain points while damaging the postseason hopes of their opponents.

After narrowly missing out on a key chance against the Flyers, Washington knows it can’t afford more meltdowns.

“We’re fighting for our lives to get into the playoffs here and all of our games in the last couple and going forward are against teams that we’re battling to get into the playoffs with,” Troy Brouwer said. “We’re still on the outside looking in and it’s getting tougher because we’re playing teams that we have to try and leap frog to get into the playoffs. “

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Katie Carrera | April 1, 2013