The Washington Capitals had visions of winning the Stanley Cup for the first time when they entered the Stanley Cup Playoffs coming off their finest regular season. The Capitals won a team-record 56 games and earned 120 points to capture the Presidents' Trophy. The acquisitions of forwards T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams seemingly had them better equipped to advance past the second round for the first time in captain Alex Ovechkin's time with Washington.
Yet the Capitals came up empty again when they were eliminated from the Eastern Conference Second Round in six games against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Speaking on a conference call Thursday, Oshie explained why the Capitals weren't able to go all the way.
"I think where we ran into trouble was late in the season, maybe because it's human nature or whatever it was, we were able to get wins with timely scoring and great goaltending instead of the whole team playing good hockey," said Oshie, who was promoting the 27th American Century Championship celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe on July 20-22. "And coming into the playoffs, Philly had to be playing on all cylinders to get in. Pittsburgh was playing really good hockey in the second half and we weren't.
"Even though we were still winning a lot of games and getting a lot of points in the regular season, we weren't playing our best hockey then. I think some of those bad habits just got ingrained in our game a little bit and we weren't able to get them out in time to come back from Pittsburgh."
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The Capitals were unable to find their form of earlier in the season when they became the first team in NHL history to win 40 of their first 53 games (40-9-4). They finished the regular season with four losses in six games and totaled three goals in Games 4-6 of the first round against the Philadelphia Flyers.
With the series loss against the Penguins, who finished with a flourish (33-16-5) and elevated their game in the playoffs, Washington was sent into another offseason facing the same questions.
The Capitals were in every game against the Penguins, with five of the six decided by one goal, including three that went into overtime. But a record-breaking season ended with a thud for the Capitals and Oshie, who scored an NHL career-high 26 goals during his first season in Washington and led the Capitals with six goals in the playoffs.
"Unfortunately someone has to go home and I feel like we didn't put our best games together in that series," Oshie said. "I thought we played well at times and I feel like that's the way the series went."