The Washington Capitals said the time to stop blaming learning a new system had passed after two losses to begin the season. They said their effort needed to be better, and they needed to remember their fundamentals and make smarter plays on the ice.
Apparently, those words were merely good quotes. The Capitals gave solid effort for the first 20 minutes against the Montreal Canadians last night, but let two second period power play goals zap their energy as they fell to 0-3 with a 4-1 loss at Verizon Center.
Washington is 0-3 for the first time since the 1993-94 season.
After an early penalty to Matthieu Perrault allowed the Canadians to register the games first five shots, the Capitals rolled all four lines for the remainder of the period, outshooting Montreal 11-4 over that stretch and possessing the puck in the Montreal zone for sustained periods of time.
However, the Capitals were unable to capitalize on a few solid chances and entered the first intermission with the game tied at zero.
Back to back penalties to Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer gave the Canadians a two-man advantage for 1:35 and they took advantage with a goal by Tomas Plekanac in the dying seconds of Ovechkin's penalty.
Players playing the puck and not remembering their positioning is what led to the goal. Instead of staying with Plekanac, Capitals defenseman John Carlson skated forward after seeing the puck bounce out in front of him. That move allowed Montreal's Andrei Markov to fake a shot and pass to a wide-open Plekanac.
On the Canadians next goal, 53 seconds later, Jay Beagle, like Carlson found himself out of position after chasing the loose puck which caused him to have his back to Markov as the rebound off of Max Pacioretty's shot bounced towards him. Beagle merely swong his stick at Markov as he tried to turn around, and Markov easily put the puck in the Capitals' net.
Another troubling trend that continued last night is the Capitals inability to get bodies consistently in front of the opposing net. The Capitals regularly took shots from the permimeter of the offensive zone and failed to generate second chances even when Canadians goaltender, Carey Price left rebounds.
Joey Crabb found his way to the net and poked home a pass from Jason Chimera with 2:23 left to avoid the shutout.
Washington suffered from the same lack of net presence last season and it has spilled into this season. With players the size of Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer, a net presence should be the least of the Capitals worries.
Yes, they are without do-it-all forward Brooks Laich right now, but this is more than just a one player problem.
Michael Neuvirth was good in his first game action since April of last year, but did not receive the help from his teammates he needed to keep the Canadians off the score board.
The Capitals are now 0-3 and head to New Jersey tonight to take on the defending Eastern Conference Champion Devils. New Jersey has not missed Zach Parise through their first two games, winning both and displaying the same characteristics that allowed them to get to the Stanely Cup Finals last season.
Points are at a premium this season, and another effort like last nights will most certainly put the Capitals where they don't want to be.
Pointless one week into a shortened season.