Braden Holtby lies on the ice after giving up the game-winning goal on Tuesday. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/ The Washington Post)

This post was originally published after the Nationals, who owned the best regular season record in the National League, were eliminated by the Giants in the 2014 National League Division Series. It is far from a perfect account of how the Capitals added to D.C.’s playoff disappointment with their season-ending, 4-3 overtime loss to the Penguins on Tuesday, but fans will not be surprised to discover that it stands up rather well 17 months later. No D.C. franchise among the four major pro sports has reached the conference finals since the Capitals in 1998.

BY [EXHAUSTED POST SPORTS BEAT WRITER]

Amid the spent cups and discarded [PIECES OF SPORTS EQUIPMENT] strewn around the [WASHINGTON SPORTS TEAM] locker room were a pile of fractured hopes, attempts at rationalization and general bewilderment.

Another promising [SPORT] season came to a premature end last night as the [WASHINGTON SPORTS FRANCHISE] fell to the [TEAM WITH A WORSE REGULAR SEASON RECORD], eliminating them from the playoffs. The ending was especially bitter, as the game was decided when [FLUKE PLAY] gave the [WASHINGTON OPPONENT] the lead and [WASHINGTON TEAM] was unable to recover.

Thus, another [SPRING/SUMMER/FALL/WINTER] that began with such promise and ambition for the [WASHINGTON SPORTS TEAM] and their fans ends in yet another [SPRING/SUMMER/FALL/WINTER] of discontent, with [WASHINGTON SPORTS TEAM] and [ITS FRONT OFFICE EXECUTIVE] confronting familiar questions in search of better answers.

“We’re close,” [FRONT OFFICE EXECUTIVE] said. “Anyone that watched us all season long can see that. We just have to figure out how to get over the hump to win in [MONTH OF THIS SPORT’S PLAYOFFS].”

While some fans quibbled with [OFFICIATING/UMPIRING CALL] in the deciding game, others took issue with [COACH/MANAGER]’s decision to [EMPLOY A STRATEGY THAT MADE NO SENSE TO ANYONE WATCHING].

Asked afterward about the choice, [COACH/MANAGER] expressed no regrets.

“That’s how we did things all season and we weren’t going to change,” he said.

Like their fans, [WASHINGTON SPORTS TEAM] players struggled to explain why they were unable to replicate their regular season success in the playoffs. After [SPORTS VERB]ing [HIGH NUMBER] of [SPORTS STATISTICS] in the regular season, [TEAM’S TOP-PAID PLAYER] managed just [VERY LOW NUMBER] of [SAME SPORTS STATISTIC] in the playoffs.

“Credit to [CLEARLY INFERIOR TEAM], they made the plays when they had to,” [UNDER-PERFORMING STAR] said. “In the playoffs it’s all about execution and they executed better.”

Still, [QUOTABLE PLAYER] insisted that this year’s playoff failure should not be linked to [SIMILARLY CRUSHING FAILURE IN RECENT PAST].

“This had nothing to do with [YEAR OF SIMILARLY CRUSHING FAILURE],” [QUOTABLE PLAYER] said quietly, as teammates sat staring off into space. “Every season is unique.”

[TEAM FRONT-OFFICE EXECUTIVE] took a long view amid the disappointment.

“We like the direction we’re heading,” [TEAM EXECUTIVE] said. “Obviously we’re disappointed, but this team is built to succeed for years to come.”

Throughout the region, amid speculation of ticket price hikes for next season, [TEAM COLORS]-clad fans expressed disappointment and frustration, though clung to warm memories of the regular season.

“I can’t believe it’s over,” said [FAN WHO HOPEFULLY WASN’T QUOTED IN LAST YEAR’S STORY]. “But I’ll never forget [HIGHLIGHT FROM PRECEDING REGULAR SEASON] and now it’s onto [WASHINGTON SPORTS TEAM WHOSE SEASON BEGINS NEXT].”