Capitals Locker Room: Team Finds Will To Win, Belief In ‘Fight For Our Lives’
The Washington Capitals are feeling a sense of belief once again after a huge win over the Buffalo Sabres.
WASHINGTON — After a rough start for him and the Washington Capitals, Charlie Lindgren saw himself and his teammates take on new life upon returning for the second. There was a renewed sense of hope, a trust in each other that wasn't there in the first 20 but emerged and remained a constant. And it paid off in a huge 5-4 shootout win in a must-win game against the Buffalo Sabres.
Lindgren said that he felt things shift after coming back and that the group rallied around him while he tried to return the favor. There was more of a spark from the team and more desperation, as Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson's third-period goals forced OT.
"We know where Buffalo's at in the standings," Lindgren said. "When you look back at the game, you can see the urgency in our game. Just the compete level and the will, the will to win, that was what we all saw tonight… I saw that group in front of me fighting for our lives, essentially."
And that's exactly what this final stretch is right now for D.C. There are 13 games left in the regular season, and Washington has some key games coming up on the circuit, including bouts with divisional opponents and Wild Card contenders in the New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins and more. They are five points out of playoff position (pending an Islanders' win in Anaheim).
Oshie added that there was also a major shift that led to the turning point, especially with the team realizing that there wasn't time to sit back.
"I think maybe a little bit of realization of where we're at [hit]. Every game has to kind of be a playoff mentality for us… there was some desperation out there that you typically see in the postseason," Oshie said, adding, "A lot to like about the way we came back."
It also helped to have Alex Ovechkin, who missed Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury, back in the mix. He scored a huge goal in the third to pull his team back within one later in the third.
"It's always great to come back obviously. How I said, this time of the year, you don't want to miss any games. Sometimes you just can't," Ovechkin said.
"There's nothing like having Ovi around in the room, on the power play. It kind of puts everyone where they need to be," Tom Wilson, who scored the game-tying goal with 1:08 left in regulation, added. "He's such a presence. When he's not there, you kind of feel it for sure. He definitely brought some life… there's no one like him around the league. There never has been. So it's a huge player when he's in the room."
Washington faces the St. Louis Blues next on Friday, and the Capitals believe they can carry over a lot from Wednesday's win. There's also a renewed sense of faith and belief in the room with a playoff spot still in reach.
"There's no quit in our group," Wilson said. "We believe in the group out on any given night. We got a lot of good players in here still and who knows what's going to happen? We're just going to put our heads down and work and push for wins."
"The expectation has been to win every night, and I think if you ask the guys in this room, it hasn't changed. The culture here is winning and winning games and making the playoffs," Wilson said. "So until the closing bell kind of rings, we're just going to keep pushing and do our best in here. I don't think you're going to see any quit, so we'll just keep it going."