Washington Capitals fans stay optimistic after rough loss

Braden Holtby could only look on as the Rangers celebrate their Game 5 overtime victory.

There's a mixture of heartache and hope in the nation's capital on Tuesday, the day after the Washington Capitals dropped a heartbreaking 3-2 Game 5 loss to the New York Rangers.

In a city where people have been rocking the red with extra fever since April 12, Capitals fans know that while the team is still alive in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a loss on Wednesday night at the Verizon Center will end their season.

Monday night's loss at Madison Square Garden, which put the Capitals down in their Eastern Conference semifinal series 3-2, came in especially crushing fashion. After Joel Ward took a high-sticking penalty late in third period with Washington up 2-1, Brad Richards of New York scored the game-tying goal with just 6 seconds left.

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Then, just over a minute into overtime, Marc Staal scored on a slapshot from the blue line to win the game. While there's plenty of nailbiting left to be done, many Capitals supporters point to the team's recent ability to quickly get back on track.

"Every time the Caps have needed to bounce back from a touch loss, they've done so," blogger Mike Holden, who writes for the BrooksLaichyear blog. "I really think they have it in them."

They'll have to do it twice though. A win on Wednesday would force another decisive Game 7 in Manhattan. The Caps have already triumphed in one such game this year, beating Boston in overtime to advance to the 2nd round.

The playoffs have left diehard fans staying up into the wee hours to catch all the action, but they're still in it until the end. They're hoping that end doesn't come in Chinatown on Wednesday night.

"We're still in it," Capitals fan Elizabeth Fraley said.