The good news for the Caps as they head into a four-day break in the schedule is that when they’ve allowed an opponent to score first this season they are 5-3-1.
The bad news is they have scored first in just seven of their first 16 games.
“We have a game plan every day, so it’s the room that has to fix it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz told reporters on Saturday after cancelling practice. “I don’t think I have to fix it. We talk about coming out quick and getting on people, but it has to come from the room.
“I have not shot a puck or made a save or made a hit or anything. It really has to come from the room and that’s where you rely on leadership. I’m going to put that on the leadership to get the room going.”
On Friday night against the Calgary Flames, the Capitals allowed their visitors to take a 2-0 lead before storming back with third-period goals from Michael Latta and Jay Beagle to force overtime, where Sean Monahan ended it with a bullet under the crossbar.
“We played our best at the end,” Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “Once we got down two you saw what kind of level we could get to so I think the challenge for us is let’s get to that level more often and earlier in games. Don’t wait around. We have a good enough team to come out at the drop of the puck and dominate more. We’re doing a great day of finding our game and I loved our response -- that’s a good characteristic -- but we can’t de doing it all the time.”
Caps left wing Brooks Laich agreed.
“With the caliber of hockey team we have, we expected more,” Laich said. “I know it’s three games in four nights, but they traveled too. (The Flames also were playing their third game in four nights and had played in Tampa on Thursday night). You look at our hockey team and it’s a game we should have had.”
With the overtime loss, the Caps (11-4-1, 23 points) picked up a point on the Rangers but saw that point disappear on Saturday when the Rangers (13-2-2, 28 points) beat the Ottawa Senators in a shootout on Saturday. The Islanders (21 points) and the Penguins (20 points) are close behind in the bunched-up Metro Division, which could change its order by the time the Caps are back in action.
The Capitals don’t play again until visiting the Red Wings in Detroit on Wednesday in an 8 p.m. Rivalry Night game. So far this season the Caps have gone 1-4-0 when they’ve had more than two days off between games.
“A little break for guys that are banged up I think is always good,” said Trotz, who noted the break comes at a good time for defenseman Brooks Orpik, who has missed the last two games with a lower body injury. “The one thing the break does sometimes is gets you out of a rhythm and gets you into a relaxed mode and not in a game mode.
“We have to make sure we change that.”
MORE CAPITALS: Slow starts are fast becoming a troubling trend for Caps