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Whatever doesn't kill the Caps...

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Whatever doesn't kill the Caps...

The playoffs are the time to dig deep. Overtime in the playoffs: a time to dig deeper. On Wednesday night almost every player on the Caps and Rangers benches were asked to give more than they'd ever given in their careers.

Half of the Capitals' playoff games this year have required overtime. Wednesday night's four hour and 34 minute affair tested the mental and physical stamina of every man on the ice. So how does a player push through almost three full periods of unanticipated hockey?

A refusal to give in.

"You don't want to lose because you've fought for so long that losing, you think of it is not an option." said Jay Beagle, who logged over 35 minutes in what was "by far" the longest game of his career.

"Both my quads had seized up and I was straight-legging it," said Beagle. "It was crazy."

Marathon runners train for months in anticipation of their multi-hour, 26.2 mile task. Through their training they learn to push beyond fatigue. They experiment with different methods to refuel in order to find the perfect formula that will push them through hours of grueling physical exhaustion. It's rare that after months of careful training, a marathoner will try something new on race day.

But when asked to essentially play another full game of hockey after 60 high-tempo minutes, Beagle had no fears about trying anything necessary to push on.

"I'm not afraid of that because you basically can't feel worse than you do," Beagle said with a laugh. "It's something where during the game, at the second or third intermission. I don't try anything out of the ordinary because I feel at the top of my game, I feel great. But especially after that second overtime --that was draining. You just try and get stuff into your body --anything into your body is good I think."

But physical discomfort is only part of the problem. Through each of their overtime bouts, numerous Capitals have insisted that the only thing more fun than playoff hockey is overtime playoff hockey. After triple overtime, Beagle disagrees.

"No. No. By that point it's hard," Beagle said laughing. "It's just a grind and your body and mind are tired. You're just trying to think of anything you can do to try and finish this game to try and get the win."

As mental and physical fatigue set it, players struggle to stick to their game plan.

"You can't look too far in the future," said Ward. "You just gotta concentrate cause the minute you slip up, that's when a turnover happens. You just gotta remain mentally strong. Physically I think the guys are on the same page."

"To stay mentally disciplined positionally it gets harder because you're starting to get a little bit weaker and you can't quite get to spots as fast as you could," said Beagle. "But the will is still there to get the win.

Losing in the third overtime --that's one of the worst feelings I've had in a while. It was tough to lose after such a battle and such a fight. It didn't feel good."

What's that thing they say about losing and getting stronger? It seems to have held true for the Capitals so far this season, perhaps that trend continues in Game 4.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short. 

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