The Capitals have three games and six crucial points on the board before breaking for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets and New Jersey Devils will visit Verizon Center on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday this week. Three victories and the Capitals likely will head into the break a playoff team.
Anything less …
“We have to win,” Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter if we have a break or not, we have to win because it’s so tight in the standings.
“That seven-game losing streak [in January] made it very hard for us. Right now, if we can win two or three we’ll be fine.”
With Mike Green, Brooks Laich and Mikhail Grabovski sidelined by injuries the Caps have turned to Tyson Strachan, Jay Beagle and Casey Wellman to fill the void the past few games.
“You have to prepare every game like it’s your last,” Chimera said. “That might sound kind of cheesy, but if you don’t do that you won’t be in the league very long.”
It hasn’t been pretty, but the Caps have managed to go 3-1-1 in their last five to stay within a few points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
“At the Olympic break, you want to be one of those teams up in the playoffs and not one of the teams looking up,” Capitals left wing Jason Chimera said.
Chimera said he was disappointed in the way the Capitals squandered three two-goal leads in their eventual 6-5 overtime win against the Detroit Red Wings Sunday afternoon.
“When you’re up two goals you’ve got to shut them down,” he said. “That’s what we’re really upset about. When you’ve got a team down you’ve got to really push down on the gas.”