In an alternate universe, the Capitals would have already moved on to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Holding a 2-1 series lead, Washington was under three minutes from winning Game 4 before Florida tied the game late in regulation. The Panthers would win in overtime on a Carter Verhaeghe goal. In Game 5, the Capitals held a 3-0 lead before allowing five unanswered Florida goals.
After blowing leads in both Games 4 and 5, the Capitals are on the brink of elimination Friday night. The Capitals' locker room still has full belief they can still win the series, though.
"I have all the confidence in the world," center Lars Eller said on the Sports Junkies Friday morning. "Everybody in our room believes we can win tonight. That's really the only thing that matters."
Eller admitted that he wished Washington executed better defensively on Wednesday night, especially after the Capitals jumped out to a three-goal lead. But the veteran also attributed the last two games as part of the "swings of a series" and believes luck still can bounce in Washington's favor the rest of the way.
When the Capitals won the Stanley Cup in 2018, they trailed in every series they played in. With a locker room full of veterans -- many of which were on that 2018 Cup team -- the Capitals know the series is far from over.
"Sometimes it adds a little bit more urgency to your game and some more will," Eller said on trailing in a playoff series. "You dig a little bit deeper and you've got to work for the luck. Maybe we'll get a little bit [luckier] if we work a little bit harder. Maybe the puck will go post-and-in instead of post-and-out. That's the game."
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With the season on the line Friday night (coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington), the Capitals know what they must do in order to extend the series to the seventh and final game. Knocking off the Presidents' Trophy-winning Panthers is no small feat, but the Capitals have proven this season they're more than capable of winning.
Yet, no matter how many times this Capitals' core has been up against elimination before, the nerves of playing in a win-or-go-home game never fail to rise. Eller believes those nerves are a good thing.
"I've been down it many times before, but you do get butterflies," Eller said. "Your emotions are a little bit more ramped up than usual. You are a little bit more nervous. But, you're supposed to [be]. It would be weird if you didn't have that. It's going to help you take your game to the next level. You've got to be emotionally invested when you play these games. Either you're going to freeze or fly. You better be flying."
All first-round games of Capitals vs. Panthers will be available regionally on NBC Sports Washington and streamed live on the MyTeams app.