It wasn’t any particular goal, turnover, or odd-man rush that the Capitals allowed Monday night in their 5-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings that bothered the players the most. They all stung to a certain degree.

The way Washington sputtered and was out-worked en route to a second straight loss so recently after it won four in a row, however, was the lasting impression of that particular contest. Wednesday’s game against Pittsburgh marks the halfway point of the season for the Capitals, and they will enter that game looking for consistency yet again.

“The frustrating part is we put three, four great games together and played the way we’re capable of playing,” Dennis Wideman said after the loss to the Kings. “It’s like we take a big breath or something and all of a sudden we turn around and we’re not playing the way we’re capable of. We lose two and we’re back to where we were.”

Matt Hendricks didn’t necessarily think that the Capitals let up as much as they simply didn’t play as well as they could in Los Angeles. Problem is, that has been too frequent an occurrence.

“I just don’t think we gave it our best stuff tonight,” Hendricks said. “It’s disappointing we’re looking at the standings right now with games in hand on Florida….We have these chances to win these games. To not do it is tough.”

The maddening part of the pattern the Capitals have established is that no matter how well they play or for how many games the success continues, it is followed up by a contest or two where they lose track of basic tenets of their game and wind up being soundly defeated.

“Those four games we played so well,” Wideman said. “We worked hard, we got pucks out, we got pucks in, we came back hard, D didn’t turn anything over. And then two games here where we play San Jose — a great team – sloppy. And L.A. — a team that’s been struggling to score some goals — then we gave them the first two goals. We just can’t do that. We can’t just give teams goals like we did.”

While the Capitals may not be back to square one, necessarily, the momentum from the losing streak is decidedly in the past. This pair of losses in California offers a reminder that there are plenty of improvements yet to be made.

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