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Ottawa stands seventh in the East and is one of Washington’s potential first-round opponents, which adds another element to Thursday’s game at Verizon Center given that the Caps don’t want to go 0-3 against the Senators.

“If we do end up playing them, we don’t want to give them any confidence against us,” Brouwer said. “They already have enough as it is.”

Oates brushed off concern about the psychological benefit of proving something against the Senators, but that doesn’t mean he considers the final two games meaningless. Far from it, and he has his players buying into his viewpoint.

“I think to treat every game like a playoff game from here on in is something to kind of keep us rolling and keep us playing our best,” forward Jay Beagle said. “You don’t want to let down and lose one of these games going into the playoffs. You want to be going in on a high note and feeling confident.”

Confidence can be fickle, but losses in the final two might not do anything for a team that showed last year it could flip a switch in Game 1 of the playoffs and perform. Any more injuries on top of Brooks Laich (groin) and Joel Ward (knee) change the equation, but Oates and the Caps can’t worry about that while staying on the same path.

What they are concerned with is maintaining the same habits that got them into the playoffs.

“I think it’s important to stay on a roll,” left wing Aaron Volpatti said. “If we can get these next two wins, I think that’ll be big. Our confidence is high and we want to keep it that way.”