Capitals forward Brooks Laich woke from a deep sleep and for a brief second thought his team’s season had ended the night before. Not yet, Laich finally realized with a sigh of relief. Not yet. That was only Game 3 that Washington lost to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals on Wednesday night at Verizon Center. There are still a few miles yet left before they sleep. Or before, for that matter, Laich begins his annual ritual of packing the car and hitting the road for the long drive back to Saskatchewan.  

“And then it refreshed in my mind that we only lost one hockey game, that it's 2-1,” Laich said. “We're still in a good position.”

But before the Caps began turning their thoughts towards Game 4 on Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center, they had a day off on Thursday to recover from that brutal triple-overtime loss. Defenseman Jeff Schultz ran some errands and then found a comfy spot on his couch the rest of the day. No need to do anything except rehydrate to stave off the cramps that hampered him late in the game.

Roman Hamrlik took his dogs to the local dog park, made some phone calls and had dinner with his neighbors. Jay Beagle and his wife, Ashley, ate dinner with Karl Alzner and his fiancé, Mandy. Alzner even played a light game of tennis, for some reason. Matt Hendricks, with twin children, a six-months-old boy and girl, did some work around the yard and sat in a lawn chair the rest of the afternoon.   

“I played with [the babies] and realized life's good,” Hendricks said. “When I sit on my couch, my hand keeps going to the NHL Channel, keeps flipping to games that are on. I got to get away from it or I'd drive myself crazy.” 

That sounds a lot better than Joel Ward’s day. He’s been pulled over a few times for having expired tags and needed to finally get that taken care of. So he spent his day at the DMV.

“It was much-needed,” Ward said, laughing. “If I get pulled over again with my expired ones I was in trouble.”

All in all, it actually sounded like a team that wasn’t putting too much stock in one difficult loss. No one was morose or stressed about being two games from elimination. They’ve been in this spot before, down 2-1 to the Boston Bruins in the first round with a critical Game 4 at home. They didn’t even have star center for Nicklas Backstrom for that one after he was issued a one-game suspension by the NHL.   

“I wasn't too physically fatigued. I had a good day away from the rink,” Laich said. “It was sunny outside. We're in the same position we were in in round 1. Somebody's going to win that hockey game, and somebody's going to lose. Unfortunately we didn't win it, but all that it's going to do is motivate us more to win Game 4.”

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