The Washington Capitals are feeling a sense of urgency with their postseason prospects as they try to extend their playoff streak. The Detroit Red Wings feel the same way, though they’re looking to end a lengthy playoff drought.
The Eastern Conference teams will match up on the Capitals’ home ice on Tuesday.
Washington, which hasn’t missed the playoffs since the 2013-14 season, has lost four straight. In their latest outing, the Capitals lost to Carolina 4-1 outdoors at Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C.
The Capitals have been stuck at 62 points while other playoff hopefuls have passed them or crept up.
“We’re kind of running out of room,” forward T.J. Oshie said. “I think our playoff hockey probably starts in this next week here — otherwise we’re going to be on the outside looking in.”
Washington’s offense has gone cold during the skid, producing just seven goals.
“We have to get our confidence back. We have to get our swagger back a little bit,” forward Tom Wilson said. “It’s tough when you lose a couple in a row. We’re going to regroup here and try to get the team together here.”
The return of Alex Ovechkin would certainly provide a boost. Ovechkin has been away from the team due to the death of his father. Mikhail Ovechkin’s funeral was held in Moscow on Saturday.
“I’m hoping this week,” Caps coach Peter Laviolette said Monday when asked when he expected Ovechkin back. “I haven’t communicated with him. He’s dealing with stuff at home. We’ll see how it goes.”
Regardless of when Ovechkin returns, the Capitals need to turn things around quickly — they have lost 10 of their last 15 games.
“I think the only answer to getting some swagger back is to get wins,” Oshie said. “And to get wins right now, we need to play a playoff-style hockey.”
The Red Wings, who failed to qualify for the playoffs the past six seasons, had a five-game winning streak halted by Seattle, 4-2 on Saturday. They have 60 points and can catch Washington in the standings with a victory.
Their coach felt they had a good opportunity to keep the streak going against the Kraken.
“I think we were prepared,” Derek Lalonde said postgame. “Just off a little bit in our execution. Just off a little bit in some coverage. We’re going to look back on this. It’s going to be tough to watch because this was very winnable and just a little lack of execution and they were the better second-effort team.”
Detroit hasn’t had more than one day off in between games since returning from the All-Star break. A pair of off-days should refresh the Wings, who are wrapping up a five-game road trip.
“The time off will be good, but the practice will be important,” Lalonde said. “With all this hockey lately, we haven’t had a lot of practice time. So, we’ll have a good practice on Monday and then try to end this road trip on a good note.”
The game on Tuesday will decide the season series. The Wings won the first matchup 3-1 on Nov. 3 and the Capitals won the second meeting, 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 19.
–Field Level Media