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Capitals Mount Furious, Improbable Comeback in Season-Defining Victory

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Caps' Improbable Comeback a Season-Defining Victory

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The only thing consistent about the Washington Capitals this season has been their inconsistency.

From game to game, you're never quite sure which team will show up. Will it be the listless and uninspiring one that didn't show up in Philadelphia last Wednesday after an emotionally charged 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes the night before? Or how about the resilient one that responded to that 4-1 loss to the Flyers with a 3-0 road victory over the Winnipeg Jets Saturday?

That's still looking at it from a macro perspective, though. Sometimes, it's even uncertain which Capitals team will manifest itself from period to period.

Look at Tuesday's night game against the Boston Bruins, for example. Washington did not play poorly by any means (minus an untimely turnover on the power play and a late penalty), but still found itself down 3-0 after the first period to an overpowering and overbearing team that has made its home near the top of the NHL standings.

"You start to think after the first period like that, [that it's the] same old song and dance that we’ve been in," goaltender Braden Holtby said.

But then the Capitals lifted the needle off that worn-out record (if Tuesday's game was a campy television show, then it would have made that record-scratch noise) in the final 40 minutes of regulation.

A unlikely cast of characters -- Mike Ribeiro, Tomas Kundratek (who scored his first-career NHL goal) and Wojtek Wolski (who scored his first since Feb. 1 and wouldn't have been in the lineup if not for Troy Brouwer being sick) -- reignited Washington to force overtime.

From there, it only took 37 seconds for Eric Fehr to split two Bruins defenders to lift the Capitals to a season-defining 4-3 victory.

Hey, Fehr knows a thing or two about capping off comebacks.

"We needed this," Wolski said. "There have been so many times in the beginning of the season where we gave up leads. I think tonight is a big step for us."

Awe-inspiring comebacks are commonplace around here. In fact, Tuesday was the eighth time since the start of the 2008-09 season that the Capitals have won a game after trailing by three or more goals -- the most in the NHL over that span. 

But there was something different about this one.

First of all, they did it against a 14-3-2 Bruins team that was 8-1-1 on the road, 6-0-0 against the Southeast Division and 89-1-0 when leading by at least three goals since 2008-09, with none of those 90 games going to overtime.

And that doesn't include the built-in thirst for retribution after the Capitals squashed their dreams of properly defending their Stanley Cup championship last spring.

More importantly, however, is that Washington wouldn't have done this a month ago. Not even close. They were too mentally fragile to respond to such adversity.

But as Ribeiro put it after Tuesday's game, "We're more confident than we were in the beginning of the year [because] we know what we have to do to win games."

Now it's simply a matter of being consistent.

"I think it says a lot about our character," Fehr said. "This team believes in ourselves. We're a pretty confident bunch right now and we believe in the system. That's why we were able to win."


Follow Adam on Twitter @AdamVingan and e-mail your story ideas to adamvingan (at) gmail.com.

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