THE RESULT: On the night that HBO premiered their 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic, the Washington Capitals continued in the role that has been scripted out for them: the ever-frustrated, not-so lovable losers; doomed to repeat a cycle of endless torment at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It's a familiar storyline that has been re-told in this area for several decades now, back at least to 1991, the first year the flightless fowl beat the Caps in a Stanley Cup Playoff series.
As beautifully shot, edited and narrated as the HBO special is, one thing remains clear: Washington hockey is doomed. At least, that's the message that is still being portrayed.
Wednesday night though, it was torment of a different structure, as Washington played perhaps it's best game in two weeks, but still found themselves on the losing end of a 2-1 overtime decision to another team named after less-than-intimidating winged creatures, the Anaheim Ducks.
Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf scored with less than a minute remaining in the extra frame to extend the Capitals losing streak to seven games. It was a familiar, if not stinging refrain, as the Caps outshot the Ducks by eight and scored the game's first goal...all for naught.
Once again, as has been common in this streak, the Caps got plenty of scoring chances. But the puck just would not go in. On the very first shift of the game by the first line, Nicklas Backstrom fanned twice on the same shot at an open net, and Mike Knuble fanned trying to get the rebound on net.
Three more posts and a crossbar. A Ducks' defenseman sweeping a puck off the goal line. Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller blocking a shot with the BACK of his paddle, sprawling to the ice after getting beaten badly.
No one wants to make excuses, but some of this is just ridiculous.
Watching the opening episode of HBO's award-winning documentary 24/7 as they chronicle the Caps and Penguins march to New Year's Day's Winter Classic, one has to wonder. "When are some of those bounces going to go the Caps' way?"
It was tough to watch, both Wednesday's loss and the hour-long episode on HBO. But both featured the very things that hockey is made out of. Toughness. Timing. Hard work. Injuries and illness. And opportunities capitalized and squandered.
The Capitals will win again, though right now it doesn't seem like it. Two weeks ago they sat atop the league standings, and they are too talented to have this misery continue.
The roles are cast. Heroes and villains. Only the guys wearing red can change the script.
THE GOOD: The Caps fairly jumped all over the Ducks in the first period and outshot them 17-7. It's just amazing how the Caps aren't getting any lucky bounces at all right now.
THE BAD: Karl Alzner. The King has a lot of good hockey in front of him, but lost -- then was outmuscled by -- Jeoffrey Lupul on Anaheim's first goal
THE UGLY: Mathieu Perreault. Completely ineffective. No shots. 1-for-10 on faceoffs.
THE STATS: Brooks Laich (8) from John Carlson (11) and Nick Backstrom (23) at 14:22 of 1st.
NEXT GAME: Saturday at the Boston Bruins at 7:00 pm.
CAPS NEWS NETWORK THREE STARS
3. Matt Bradley. Not much in the stat sheet (three hits), but matched up all night against Anaheim's top line with Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan.
2. Semyon Varlamov. 24 saves on 26 shots. Played in control most of the night, couldn't be faulted on either goal. Strong bounce-back effort from the debacle in New York Sunday.
1. Brooks Laich. Nice work on the backhander for the goal and team-high seven shots on goal. Blocked a sure goal when Varly got out of position. Oh, and was a perfect 6-for-6 in the dot. If you want bread, go to the bakery.