That the Washington Capitals stumbled against Montreal, 3-2, last night was disheartening enough. Then consider it was their eighth straight loss in overtime, and the anguish is compounded that much more.
The maddening part for players and Coach Bruce Boudreau was that Washington had victory in hand, or at least was on the verge of putting it away with a robust first period. A nifty goal by Mathieu Perreault that rocketed underneath Montreal goalie Carey Price, followed by Mike Knuble's power-play strike, had the Capitals up 2-0 and playing like a fully engaged, well-rested bunch after the all-star break.
But Canadiens right wing Brian Gionta soon demoralized the Capitals with a pair of goals that developed because of Capitals mistakes, and when the proceedings reached overtime, Washington wasn't able to regroup before backsliding into its second straight three-game skid over its past 10 games.
"I have no idea," Coach Bruce Boudreau said when asked the reasons behind his team's troubles in extra time. "We didn't get the puck in the spots where we wanted them to get. I don't know if that's confidence or it's Carey Price being that good. I think it's probably you want to do it, and I know I say it a lot, you want to get the goal so badly, and you get that opportunity, and when things are going good for you, they all go in. When things aren't going good scoring-wise, they don't go in."
Washington, which has just three goals over its past three games, has lost its past two extra-time games in the shootout, which players often refer to as "50-50," meaning there's no rhyme or reason -- "penalty shootout is like a lottery," Alex Ovechkin said -- to that regular-season format. But that doesn't explain the Capitals' five consecutive losses in standard overtime this season after they began 4-0 in such games.
Washington has not won in an extra-session game since Nov. 28, when it beat Carolina, 3-2, in a shootout. The Capitals' last win in standard overtime was Nov. 7 over the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2.
"I think it's puck possession," defenseman Mike Green said. "I think a lot of the time, maybe we throw the puck away when we should try to make a play, and then it seemed like [Montreal] had the puck the majority of the overtime, and we were just defending. Anytime you're defending like that, it gets a lot more tiring than having the puck, so we have to adjust and make sure we make plays."