Everyone can take a big sigh of relief.
The Washington Capitals can now go back to their business of being a hockey team instead of answering questions about their coach's immediate job security, the 24/7 pressure of, well, HBO's 24/7, and everything else that was associated with the losing streak.
No one liked what happened. There might have been bandwagoneers that jumped off. And those commenters on certain blogs and message boards theoretically have added the eight-game losing streak to their arsenal of why Bruce Boudreau or General Manager George McPhee are unfit for their current positions.
But it's over. A simple 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators, something many folks in the DMV (and elsewhere) have taken for granted the past couple of seasons, has changed the outlooks for folks that like to wear red this time of year. And I'm not talking about holiday helpers.
We all saw it. People proclaiming their Winter Classic tickets were up for sale. "Die-hards" feeling embarrassed to be seen in their Ovechkin jersey. Nasty tweets and comments and blog posts.
But all it was was a slump. It was a bad slump, and it reinforced some of the things this team needs to work on to excel in the playoffs. But it was a slump, nonetheless.
You can never take winning for granted. Certainly there were portions of the fan base that had forgotten that. This league is hard. Maybe some of that had leaked into the locker room? Who knows, but Boudreau's comments of players feeling sorry for themselves might indicate that it had.
The weight of the world has lifted of the Captials' shoulders. They were playing better through the last couple games of the slump. They finally got their streak-ending win. Hopefully whatever strain of influenza that infected the locker room has run its course. Maybe a complete game victory over New Jersey Tuesday night will be the thing to inspire this team into a lengthy win streak to erase the damage the losing streak did.
Because for all of the hand-wringing and hair pulling, the Caps still sit third in the East in points, just two points behind Pittsburgh for second, who have their own problems to worry about now.
After witnessing an eight-game losing streak, anyone that calls themselves a Caps fan today must not take winning regular season games for granted. Not now. Hopefully, that message has sunk in to the guys that play the game as well.
Because there are still a lot of regular season hockey games left to be played.