Washington, DC-Hoping to end a mini-homestand on a high note before embarking on a west coast road trip, the Washington Capitals found themselves on the short end of a demoralizing 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
After an Alex Ovechkin goal just over a minute into the game, the Caps could do nothing right as the Kings outworked them throughout the contest, led by Anze Kopitar and Michal Handzus who each posted a goal and an assist in what turned into an ugly affair at the Verizon Center in a Saturday afternoon matinee.
The Capitals went 0-4 on the power play and didn't score following Ovechkin's goal, which was the team's first shot of the game.
Meanwhile Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier rebounded from a shaky start to stop 22 shots in a row. The Capitals rarely tested him as their offense was unable to establish any momentum, thwarted by poor decision-making and solid work from the Los Angeles defensemen. Washington has scored one goal in the last two games, leaving them to search for more answers in a season where the questions don't stop emerging.
"I don't know what we're waiting for," said Mike Knuble following the loss. "There's a lot to play for-as players, as individuals, as a team. Every game is important. Those are huge points we left on the table."
The Capitals sit in the fifth spot in the Eastern Conference standings and failed to move closer to Pittsburgh who lost 9-3 to the Islanders Friday night. Now they head off to Arizona for the first of a five game road trip where they play three games on the west coast. Such trips have not been kind to Washington in the past, which doesn't bode well for a team hoping to find their scoring touch and maintain postseason positioning.
Ovechkin and his teammates know the stakes are high and after the game, Matt Hendricks revealed that they held a players-only meeting indicating that there's little question the next handful of games will test the mettle of a team who seems sapped of energy.
However, if they are looking for a quick fix, they shouldn't expect to find one in this up-and-down season according to Boudreau. All it will take is hard work.
"It never happens where you just flip a switch and it goes," he said during his postgame press conference. "It comes from the beginning of the game to the end of the game working your rear end off. So if they are waiting for some switch to magically appear, it's not going to happen."