The Capitals were hosting a New Jersey Devils team that come in losers of four in a row, including an overtime loss to the Boston Bruins Thursday night. However, Zach Parise and the Devils were wide awake and they took it to the Caps 5-0 Friday night at the Verizon Center.
This was the second 5-0 shutout for the Caps in less than two weeks and it only took Parise 23:08 of the game to have his second career hat trick. Dainus Zubrus and Patrick Elias had the other Devils goal as the Caps gave up a power play goal and shorthanded goal in just over 35 minutes of action.
Actually the first ten minutes the Caps played real solid hockey and dominated play, a lot like the Islanders game, but the one Devils power play off a Matt Hendricks high stick turned the tide and the Caps fell apart from there.
“Too many turnovers, that was the story of the game, too many turnovers,” Caps forward Brooks Laich said. “We made it too easy for them.”
The Capitals ended up with eight turnovers while the Devils had six takeaways, but the bigger story was some of the veterans calling out the team for the lack of effort in the third period in which the Caps could only get five shots on goal and down 5-0.
“I don’t think we worked very hard in the third period,” Caps forward Troy Brouwer said. “I thought we packed it in, we looked like a real timid, beaten down hockey team.”
Brouwer, who is also one of the alternate Captain’s, wasn’t the only veteran to call the team out.
“Just a lack of pride, just a completely horrible effort,” Veteran Jeff Halpern said. “After the first little bit, it was just awful.”
The Capitals chose to say pat and make no trades before last Monday’s trade deadline and Halpern commented on that as well.
“We’re lucky this game wasn’t a week ago before the trade deadline,” Halpern said. “Cause this was an embarrassing game”
Of the Devils five goals, Neuvirth let one soft one in through his armpit and gave up a juicy rebound on the Zubrus goal, but other than that he was laid out to dry. Neuvirth ended up with 15 saves on the night.
“I wanted Neuvy [Neuvirth] to battle through it,” Capitals Head Coach Dale Hunter said. “He didn’t have a great start, so I wanted him to battle through it”
Not only did the Devils come in losers of four in a row and played last night, but they also played with their back up goalie Johan Hedberg. Hedberg stopped all 23 shots he saw for his third shutout of the season and first since November 25th. Alex Ovechkin ended up with one shot on goal while Alexander Semin had three. Jason Chimera led the Caps with five shots on goal.
“We had great scoring chances and the goalie stood strong,” Hunter said. “That’s the game of hockey. We had our chances we didn’t bury [them] and they had their chances and they went in.”
The Caps power play continues to struggle going 2 for it’s last 34 and 0 for 2 on the night.
“Our power play is absolutely killing us,” All-Star defenseman Dennis Wideman said.
The Caps power play also continues to give up shorthanded goals, four in their last ten games.
“You’d like to hope that we’d play a lot better at this time of the year and the race that we’re in, but I don’t know,” Wideman said.
The playoffs are closing in fast and with only 18 games left, the Caps are one point out of the final playoff spot but with two games in hand on the Winnipeg Jets. But don’t look now, the Tampa Bay Lightning are only three points behind the Caps and also have 18 games left.
“It’s not what we wanted that’s for sure,” Brouwer said. “Especially what happened last night in the standings.”
The Caps, who were booed quite vigorously by the Verizon Center faithful tonight, three game winning streak is a thing of the past as they need to regroup to host the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in game three of their very critical five game homestand.
“We got a lot of tough games,” Brouwer said. “Our schedule is not very easy and we have to find ways to win and ways to win against good hockey teams”
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Troy Brouwer, Jeff Halpern, Brooks Laich & Matt Hendricks had to say following the loss.
Dale Hunter Postgame Audio
Troy Brouwer Postgame Audio
Jeff Halpern Postgame Audio
Brooks Laich Postgame Audio
Matt Hendricks Postgame Audio