“There’s still three games in the season,” center Mike Ribeiro said. “Obviously [this is] a big game for both sides, and for us you beat them, you’re in. But you need to take that like, ‘OK, it’s not the end of the world,’ either.”
The Caps host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday and the Boston Bruins on Saturday to wrap up the regular season. They’re 1-3 against those teams this year.
“Every game is big, but you have to just go there and do what you do,” left wing Martin Erat said. “And if everybody’s going to do it, what we did last 10, 12 games, it’s going to be easy.”
The Caps have made hockey look easy lately, winning 9 of 10 to get to this point. Tuesday crystallizes the season, but there is a danger in making one game against the Jets the end-all, be-all.
“You do want to remind the guys that if we win this, we’re in. But we don’t want to say we have to win this,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “We just want to continue playing the same way we have and just worrying about playing good hockey.”
Yet it’s Game 46 of the regular season, and a trip to the playoffs is incredibly close. The stakes don’t get much higher in this kind of situation, but the Caps have been playing meaningful games on the edge of contention for a while now.
“It’s been like that for at least a month now that if you don’t win those games, we’re probably out of the playoffs a long time ago,” Ribeiro said. “And we were able to stick together and play the right way, and able to put ourselves in position that we are for tomorrow’s game. You need to embrace those moments.”