Over at the D.C. Sports Bog, Dan Steinberg has done a small survey asking if Monday night’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers was the worst loss in Capitals history. After all, a team rarely wins when trailing by a goal with less than eight seconds left. Like, almost never.
What do you think? Was it the gut-punch to end all gut-punches? Here are some other notable losses to get the conversation going. Let us know what you think in the comments.
One small sliver of hope: The Caps have won the last three times they faced elimination in Game 6 (2009 vs. Rangers and Penguins, 2008 vs. Flyers).
1987 Patrick Division semifinals vs. the Islanders, Game 7
The Easter Epic. Pat LaFontaine scores at 1:56 a.m. to give the Islanders a 3-2, series-clinching win in the fourth overtime. The Capitals, who were not shut out all season, were blanked for the last 90 minutes 2 seconds. Capitals radio announcer Ron Weber started his broadcast at 7:15 p.m. and didn’t end it until 2:19 a.m. Number of bathroom breaks: zero. “And it’s all over. It’s all over. The Capitals’ 13th season has come to a very, very unlucky end,” was Weber’s weary call of LaFontaine’s goal.
1996 East quarterfinals vs. Pittsburgh, Game 4
The Caps jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead, but the hated Penguins — playing most of the game without Mario Lemieux, who was ejected in the second period for jumping Todd Krygier — battled back to force overtime. The teams then preceded to play nearly all night, with Petr Nedved scoring a power-play goal at 19 minutes 16 seconds of the fourth overtime to give Pittsburgh a 3-2 win at USAir Arena that knotted the series at two games apiece. The game, which ended at 2:22 a.m., was the third-longest game in NHL history at the time, and featured Joe Juneau’s penalty shot in the second overtime (just the 30th in Stanley Cup playoff history at the time) that was stopped by Ken Wreggett. The Penguins proceeded to win the next two games of the series to win it in six games.
1998 Stanley Cup finals vs. Detroit, Game 2
Twice, the Caps led the host Red Wings by two goals, but Kris Draper scored with 4:36 left in overtime to give Detroit a 5-4 overtime win and a 2-0 series lead against the Caps in their only appearance in the Stanley Cup finals. Washington led 3-1 at the start of the third period and 4-2 with 12 minutes left, and Esa Tikkanen had a chance to all but seal the win with the Caps up 4-3 midway through the third period, but he missed a shot at an open net. The Red Wings won the next two games in Washington to complete the sweep.
2003 East quarterfinals vs. Tampa Bay, Game 6
The Caps, looking for their first Stanley Cup playoff series win since 1998, won the first two games in Tampa by a combined score of 9-3 but then dropped three straight to set up Game 6 in Washington. Then came triple overtime. Then the Caps were whistled for a too-many-men penalty. Then, 18 seconds later, Martin St. Louis scored the Lightning’s second power-play overtime goal of the series, giving Tampa Bay a 2-1 victory and a 4-2 series victory. Washington, which managed just three goals over the final 220 minutes of the series, wouldn’t again make the playoffs until 2008.
More on Game 5:
— Steinberg: Worst loss ever?
— Greenberg: Caps are down, but not out.
— Wise: Caps don’t know how to seize success
— Caps give away Game 5 in overtime, 3-2
— Graphic: Capitals 2012 playoffs, shot by shot