Peter Laviolette didn’t mince words. There was no need.
The Capitals lost 4-1 to the Islanders on Tuesday at Capital One Arena, but the bench boss didn’t elaborate much on the previous 60 minutes of hockey. From start to finish, it wasn’t a good night for the Capitals.
"From the beginning,” Laviolette said when asked where the night went wrong. “It wasn't good."
After a late blown lead Sunday against the Leafs in which the Capitals squandered a point in the final minutes, they blew another opportunity to move up in the standings Tuesday against the non-playoff Islanders.
Now, the Capitals’ potential playoff opponents are down to the Rangers and the Panthers. But whoever the opponent is, a performance like Tuesday won’t cut it.
"We can't play like we did tonight going into the playoffs,” Laviolette said. “If we play like this in the playoffs…This isn't who we are. This isn't our M.O. It's one night, it was lousy and so that's that."
The Capitals appeared to shake their sluggish start in the opening minutes, as a disallowed goal for the Islanders gave the Capitals a bit of a jump. Conor Sheary scored the opening goal a few minutes later.
But then the Islanders scored four straight, as the Capitals couldn’t get much of anything to go their way for the final 50 or so minutes.
“Pucks were bouncing a lot,” Tom Wilson said. “Nothing really that clean out there. Just one of those nights it was just kind of bouncing everywhere. Guys were out of sync a little bit, couldn’t get much going. Kind of an ugly game but sometimes you gotta find a way to turn it around when it isn’t going your way. But we just didn’t really have that tonight.”
The team was absent Alex Ovechkin, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. But with just two games left in the season, and perhaps two wins necessary to move out of the second wild card spot and avoid the top-seeded Panthers and the Atlantic Division altogether, the time for performances like Tuesday has shrunk to nothing.
“Maybe it’s a good thing,” Conor Sheary said. “Just learn to move past it. I think come playoff time there are going to be points where you lose games, tough ones. We just got to move on. We still have an opportunity to move up in the standings, and we have two games left. Our focus is the next game against the Islanders.”