More action-movie suspense was hardly what the Washington Capitals wanted in the dying seconds of regulation Monday night. And once they had been thrown over the cliff by Brad Richards' tying goal with 6.6 seconds to go in the third period and Marc Staal's winner only 1:35 into overtime, they had no choice but to think ahead to a sixth game in the Eastern Conference semifinal.
"It's tough to swallow, especially the way it happened," said wing Troy Brouwer, whose two assists had led to a 2-1 Washington lead early in the third period. "It's tough to handle this one, but we've been able to come back every time we've been down in the series so far."
Washington already has demonstrated it can revive itself like one of those cartoon villains -- a grease spot one instant, fully whole the next -- by the way it rebounded from the triple-overtime loss to the Rangers in Game 3.
"Same way," center Matt Hendricks said of the current plan of action. "Watch film on it tomorrow, let it go. It's tough. But it's a hockey game. We need to regroup. They won at home, now we have to win."
Washington goalie Braden Holtby, who appeared as likely as anyone to shave the Rangers' playoff beards for 59:53 of the game, conjuring 35 saves -- many of them suitable for framing -- was as philosophical about Richards' goal and the result as he could be.
"Sometimes those go in," he said. "You just have to live with it."
"It just happens," defenseman Karl Alzner said. "There's nothing you can say. That's the way with any sport. Sometimes you do something great and the next time you don't. There's just nothing to do about it."
Besides, Alzner contended, "We should've iced the game with eight minutes left. We had a breakaway" -- ahead at 2-1 and with the dangerous Alex Ovechkin sailing down the left wing, but the pass never got to him. "We should've won that game, so we have a good feeling in this room. It's not like we got beat 5-0. It's one we should've put away in the third there."
The Capitals did appear to be in charge after John Carlson's go-ahead goal early in the third. But now what for Washington? "I see the same desire, the same urgency; now our backs are against the wall," Brouwer said.
"We win as a group and we lose as a group," said Ovechkin, again singled out by the Rangers fans' scornful chant. "Six seconds left and they score a goal. But I don't think somebody thinks we're going to lose easily. You know, we go home, play at our house, our fans are going to cheer for us. Then we come back here and beat them here."