Capitals must simplify game after another one goal showing


It was fitting of the Capitals' night that faced with a three-goal deficit entering the third period, it took just 30 seconds into the frame for the Wild to make it four.

The Capitals, on paper, had the better share of the shots and quality scoring chances. Those numbers didn’t fool anyone, as a 5-1 loss to the Wild at Capital One Arena was the second-straight game in which they struggled to produce quality scoring chances while the outcome was still in doubt. 

There were numerous issues that plagued the Capitals on Sunday, as well as in the last two games, but one of those problems has noticeably manifested itself on their side of the scoreboard. 

“We need to go north-south,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We’re way too far east-west. So we need more pucks at the net. We need more people at the net.”

The Capitals’ lone goal of the night came on a Garnet Hathaway tally, which indeed was a deflection in front of the net after an Alex Ovechkin shot. 

But by that point, Washington already trailed 4-0 and some fans in attendance had made their way toward the exits.

“We are a good team,” Ovechkin said. “It’s just kind of momentum, maybe in our mind something’s going to happen, but if we want to have success, we can’t play like that. Obviously, we knew it’s going to be tough game, it’s going to be a very good opponent that’s going to play against us and obviously the leadership group and all of us have to play better.”


Sunday’s game was the second in a row in which the Capitals scored just a single goal, as they’ve now been outscored 11-2 in their last two games — which were against playoff level competition.

Ovechkin added the team had meetings a few days ago where it looked at the types of scoring chances they were creating and determined they were too far from the net to produce anything significant.

“If you compare to different teams, we have to go to the net better to have traffic, and we all understand what it takes, especially in the playoffs,” he said. “Playoffs is going to be different game, and it is going to be hard game and we just have to go there and fight through it and find a dirty one."

But if the Capitals are to improve on not just their quantity, but quality, of scoring chances, it’ll have to come against some of the league’s best. 

In their next five games, they’ll play the Lightning, Penguins, Bruins, Flyers and Maple Leafs. Four of those teams are currently in a playoff spot, and those teams certainly have enough offensive firepower to keep the Capitals on their heels if they're not careful. 

This means that simplifying the team’s game might end up being the most complicated thing of all at the moment.

“That's the same thing that everybody's saying,” Laviolette said. “You can say it, but you've got to do it, right? You've got to go out and you've got to play north-south and you've got to deliver that type of game. And so right now we're not.”