Battling for playoff life in the opening-round series probably wasn't part of the plan for the NHL's top regular-season team. But that's the reality now, and the Caps have mostly themselves to blame for this predicament.
With the Capitals looking for the elusive fourth win in this series, the team's snipers -- Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Mike Green, and Tomas Fleischmann - have gone south at the worst possible time.
The Capitals' power play is also a pathetic 1-for 30. This is the same power play that led the NHL in the regular season in terms of percentage (25.2 per cent) and goals scored (79).
And now Washington has a goalie crisis on its hands in the form of Montreal netminder Jaroslav Halak, who made a career-high 53 saves in Monday's 4-1 Game 6 masterpiece. Halak has now stopped 89 of the last 91 pucks shot on him.
With the possibility of completely coughing up a 3-1 series stranglehold, the pressure is all on the Capitals.
"We have to wipe the slate clean," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters after Game 6. "If you start thinking and let them get inside your head from what's happened in the past, then you're in trouble. It all starts fresh, take a deep breath and come back at them."
Boudreau conceded that his high-priced talent is starting to think too much about how to beat Halak rather than just put the puck on net and hope for the best.
"That's absolutely what happens, instead of just shooting you try to be fine and try to pick two-inch spots," Boudreau said. "What ends up going in is that shot that did go in, a wide shot that's redirected that he has no chance on. They get so frustrated that they try to pick two-inch spots all over the ice, and usually that doesn't work."
By the sounds of it, Halak, who is 8-0 this season when faced with 45 shots or more, is getting to the Caps' collective headspace.
But let's give the Canadiens credit, too. They've found a way to defy the odds. Their top players are performing, their depth players are working their tail off, and the no-name defence has been stellar.
When you add a red-hot Halak and superb penalty killing to the mix, the Canadiens have proven their worth.
Consider the turning point in Game 6.
After Montreal pulled ahead 2-0, the Capitals had a chance to get back into the game when they were awarded a two-man advantage. But the Canadiens' penalty killers went to work, keeping Washington's snipers without a shot throughout the opportunity. Washington's forwards passed the puck around the Montreal end like it was a hot potato.
The Capitals now head into their fourth elimination night at Verizon Center in three years, but it is the first time they have approached Game 7 after two straight losses.
How they respond will say a lot about the character of this team. Are they contenders or pretenders?
The pressure is all on them.