In a game in which Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and two assists and the Capitals were able to dominate possession, it was the defense that let the team down in a 7-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
"You are not going to win many games giving up seven," Tom Wilson said.
"We let in too many goals tonight," Washington head coach Peter Laviolette said. "We scored enough to win. I thought we generated enough chances, I thought we could've scored more. There was a few that didn't bounce our way, but there's some things that, I don't think it was a barrage coming at us defensively, but they capitalized on the chances that they did get."
Sunday's loss was the third straight in which the Caps had given up four or more goals and the fifth straight game in which they have given up at least three. In 12 games Washington has only held opponents to fewer than three goals in two games. For the season, the Caps are giving up 3.58 goals against per game, tied with the lowly Detroit Red Wings for 25th.
In previous games, Washington struggled to maintain possession of the puck, allowing opponents to really dictate the game. That was not the case on Sunday as Washington outshot Philadelphia 37-23. There were large stretches in the first and second periods in which Washington seemed to be in complete control. But every time the Caps scored, the Flyers were able to respond and often at critical moments.
Washington gave up a goal to Scott Laughton less than two minutes after Wilson made it 2-0 and with less than two minutes remaining in the first period. Laughton scored again less than three minutes into the second. Nicklas Backstrom scored with less than a minute left in the second, but instead of Washington capitalizing, Sean Couturier restored the Flyers' lead 31 seconds into the third.
"Going into the third, that goal hurts," Wilson said.
Sunday's loss is a frustrating one not just because of those critical goals, but because the team knows it is not playing poorly overall. But, perhaps because of all the players in and out of the lineup or perhaps because they are still adjusting to a new coach and a new system, one costly mistake on each play seems to always come back to haunt them.
After the game, the team stressed the need to play as a five-man unit if they hoped to improve defensively.
""It's very important that we're always reloading as a group of five," Nick Jensen said. "I know it's easy sometimes to look and see they only got one or two guys up in the play and before we know it they're putting the puck in the back of the net."
"We just got beat 1-on-1, where we were just a little bit off," Eller said. "There can be four guys doing their job perfectly and one guy is not and then we're screwed."