There weren’t a whole lot of smiles in the visiting locker room at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday, even after the Washington Capitals picked up a much-needed point in a shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
“But nothing you can do right now,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “We lost a point and tomorrow’s going to be big game for us – probably biggest game of the year.”
That’s Friday night back at Verizon Center against the Winnipeg Jets. And though players have been tossing around “biggest game of the year” for weeks now, this is a chance to most likely put the Jets far enough away in the rear-view mirror that they won’t be a threat in the playoff race.
“We got a big game … against Winnipeg who we feel is going to be maybe a make or break game in our season,” right wing Troy Brouwer said.
Resetting the playoff picture, the Caps sit in eighth in the Eastern Conference going into Friday night with 81 points, four points back of the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers, one point up on the Buffalo Sabres and five up on the Jets.
“So we are in the playoffs at this point,” Brouwer said. “But we’re looking forward to [Friday] night’s game. It’s going to be a very intense, very exciting game.”
Especially considering the bad blood. Mark Stuart was fined $2,500 for a head shot on Marcus Johansson last week, and Brooks Laich said the Winnipeg defenseman came up high on Brouwer, too.
“That’s all right. We’ve got ‘em again. We’ve got ‘em again in a week and hockey players have long memories. We’ll see ‘em soon,” Laich said last week after the Caps’ loss at the Jets. “We definitely don’t like ‘em. They’re right behind us. We’ll see ‘em in a week.”