A three-game homestand that begins against the NHL’s worst team could be just what the Washington Capitals need to start a winning streak.
They have been floundering over the past six weeks, putting together back-to-back victories just once over that span. Overall, they’ve gone 7-9-3 in their last 19 games, which doesn’t bode well for a team with championship aspirations.
In their latest outing, they lost a shootout in Buffalo 3-2 on Monday. The Capitals are trying to hold off Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for the top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
“We know right now the points are pretty irrelevant for what we want to accomplish,” goalie Braden Holtby told NHL.com. “If you look at how we’re playing, how we’re setting up games, how we’re starting, how we’re finishing — if you look at the process that way, you’re going to get a lot of points. Right now, we’ve just got to keep working, and keep pushing ourselves even harder.”
The Capitals (41-20-8, 90 points) fell behind the Sabres 2-0, then rallied in the third period to force overtime.
“The third period obviously is our best,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. “I think our execution through the first 40 minutes wasn’t great in terms of — particularly in the neutral zone — giving our team a chance to have success. In the third period, we simplified our game. We put pucks behind them, and we hung on to the puck and played in the offensive zone.”
The Capitals will also face Chicago and Edmonton before venturing out of town again. This will be the second of three meetings with the Red Wings.
Washington won the first one at Detroit, 5-2, on Nov. 30.
Alexander Ovechkin collected perhaps the easiest hat trick of his career, as he tallied two empty-netters.
The Red Wings (17-49-5, 39 points) had a modest two-game winning streak snapped by Carolina on Tuesday, losing 5-2. Detroit is now 0-20-1 against Metropolitan opponents.
Their special teams faltered against the Hurricanes, as they allowed three power-play goals and a short-handed goal while their power play went 0-for-5.
“It was unfortunate that we weren’t able to generate anything on the power play,” center Dylan Larkin told NHL.com. “They scored on their chances. It was a tight game. We got a power play there with 15 minutes left in the third, and we didn’t even generate momentum. That’s kind of the hockey game there. We’ve got to find a way as a five-man unit.”
Detroit has been searching in vain for ways to win most of the season. It has already clinched the NHL’s worst overall record for the first time since the 1985-86 season.
“We just didn’t bear down on the penalty kill and we didn’t bear down on the power play,” Larkin said. “I’m not going to say they wanted it more than us, because we battled and we hung in there but they executed a little better in the special teams department.”
The Wings’ All-Star representative, forward Tyler Bertuzzi, has heated up over the past week. After going without a goal for 13 consecutive games, he has found the back of the net the last three games.
–Field Level Media