WASHINGTON -- Frustration was evident in the Capitals' locker room following Monday night's game versus Detroit, understandable considering the contest resulted in Washington's fifth straight loss.
Yet, the reason for the frustration wasn't just the fact that the Capitals came up short on the scoreboard. Rather, the group felt they collectively played a lot better against Detroit than in recent showings, yet there was nothing to show for it in the standings.
"Tonight's game had a different feel to it, for sure," goaltender Darcy Kuemper said. "We're doing a lot of the right things, we're supporting each other, we're working for each other. We didn't get rewarded. The right intentions were there, it just didn't know how we wanted it to."
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said postgame he was pleased with his team's effort throughout the night, especially compared to Saturday's poor showing at the Stadium Series. But like his players, he was disappointed the offense remained stagnant.
"There was definitely more urgency from the other night," he said. "There are three or four things where if you could go back and do something different, you would, and it might be a tighter game, a closer game. But we've still got to find a way to put the puck in the net. It's not falling for us right now. There were good chances in the first two periods, but there were a lot of chances in the third and we just couldn't get it going."
After a back-and-forth start to begin the game, Detroit broke through first midway through the opening period thanks to a goal courtesy of Robert Hagg from the point. It marked the fifth game in a row the Capitals have conceded the first goal -- a recipe Washington has learned is hard to overcome.
The Capitals seemed to gain some momentum after Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin was ejected for cross-checking T.J. Oshie up high, but Detroit quickly regained control after Pius Suter found the back of the net for a shorthanded goal. The Capitals were able to score on the power play via Tom Wilson less than two minutes later, something Laviolette thought was significant for his squad in getting back into the game.
"It was tough to give up the one and go down 2-0," Laviolette said. "I thought it was big to get one out of it and to at least get it back within one. There were some chances where you have to give their goaltender a little bit of credit. He made some big saves."
Washington failed to generate much of any offensive attack in the second period, though, as the Capitals had just 12 shots on goal after 40 minutes.
The Capitals came out in the third period applying a ton of pressure on the Detroit defense, registering seven shots on goal in roughly the first five minutes of the frame. Washington finished with 15 shots in the final period, yet the group was collectively unable to find the back of the net once again.
"We pressed and we pushed, especially in the third period, we couldn't put the puck in the net," Laviolette said. "So it's frustrating for everybody."
Red Wings netminder Ville Husso remained stout for the entire game, saving 26 of the 27 shots fired his way. The Capitals had several scoring chances in the final period, yet for one reason or another were unable to finish.
"We had so many pucks that were sitting on the crease, on the goal line and you're just thinking 'can we not get a bounce here?'" Nic Dowd said. "I think everything is magnified at this point in the season, where we are in the standings."
Following the game, defenseman Nick Jensen said the Capitals' offensive woes have made a dent in the team's collective confidence.
"I think a lot of it's a confidence thing right now," Jensen said. "We got a lot of skill guys on this team that has been putting the puck in the back of the net for a lot of years and we're just as a team we're struggling to find that right now. So we got to find ways to get that going."
With the loss, the Capitals have lost five games in a row in regulation for the first time since January of 2014. After being in third place in the Metropolitan Division on New Year's Day, the Capitals now sit outside of the playoff picture, tied with the Red Wings and two points back of Florida for the final Wild Card spot.
As Oshie pointed out Saturday night in Raleigh, the Capitals' playoff-style hockey starts this week. After Monday's game didn't go Washington's way, the club knows they need to get back on track in a hurry.
"There's no time to hang our heads here," Wilson said. "I think the guys came together today and worked hard but it's not easy to win in this league. We got to find a way here and you know, there's a good chunk of games left but like you said, one down, we gotta turn this around right now, start putting together some wins."