Head coach Peter Laviolette sees a trend in his team that he's not too happy about. Since the first game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday, the Capitals have struggled in the second period of games and that happened again on Friday. A number of defensive breakdowns saw the Capitals squander a 2-1 and 3-2 lead over the Buffalo Sabres allowing Buffalo to tie the game and force a shootout.
This is a trend Laviolette is determined to stop.
"The second period just how we managed the game, that has been a couple second periods in a row so for me, it is time to have a chat,” Laviolette said.
In the first game against the Penguins on Sunday, the Caps had a 2-1 lead heading into the second, but gave up two goals and took three minor penalties allowing Pittsburgh to tie the game at 3. On Tuesday, a first period that was arguably Washington's best of the season was negated by a horrendous second period that saw the Caps fail to score on a 3-on-0, give up a 5-on-3 power play goal and give up a 5-on-3 shorthanded goal. That game ended in an overtime loss.
On Friday, the team suffered a number of defensive breakdowns in the second period allowing Buffalo in behind the defense multiple times. It took some key saves by goalie Vitek Vanecek and some bad luck for the Sabres to keep the Caps alive.
"The second period, that was the toughest period that we struggled with," Laviolette said, "And there was a lot of things that happened but most of it came from not putting the puck deep or putting it behind them and getting in on the forecheck, we turned pucks over way too much in the neutral zone and it just countered really fast and they were able to spring some guys and get into some footraces that they won. There is no question there are some things that we need to clean up defensively."
Through five games, the Caps have given up eight goals in the second period alone and have been outshot 59-36. They have also taken nine minor penalties while drawing six.