Capitals Vs. Coyotes: On Valentine's Day, Caps Find No Love In Phoenix In 3-2 Loss To Coyotes

The Capitals couldn't find any love on Valentine's Day in a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes, their third straight loss overall and sixth in their last eight games.

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Capitals Vs. Coyotes: No Love In Desert For Caps, Drop Third Straight In 3-2 Loss To Coyotes

After leaving Washington, D.C. for a week serenaded by boos from their hometown faithful, the Capitals headed out on a five-game road trip looking for some love. On Valentine's Day, the Caps' search for love came up empty again in a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.

A scoreless first period that saw 10 combined shots got the game off to a slow start, but both teams would make up for it in the next two periods. Marcus Johansson opened the scoring at 8:46 after a centering pass bounced off several players in front and somehow beat Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Less than a minute later, Martin Hanzal would respond with a wrister past Michal Neuvirth (15 saves) to tie the game at 1-1. Ray Whitney added a power play goal late in the period to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

In the third period, Vernon Fiddler made it 3-1 at 4:24 after an interesting sequence. Fiddler was in the faceoff circle in the Capitals' offensive zone, but the referee excused him. Fiddler set up on the side as the Coyotes won the faceoff and then sprinted down the ice as John Erskine pinched, leaving the Caps facing a 2-on-1. Scottie Upshall fed Fiddler for the goal as Neuvirth had little chance to slide across the crease.

But just like in the second period, there was a quick response. Matt Bradley scored 40 seconds later on a low wrist shot in the slot which fooled Bryzgalov for his fourth goal of the season. Jeff Schultz, who sent the puck into the offensive zone, and David Steckel, who was able to get the puck to Bradley despite being surrounded by several Coyotes, assisted Bradley on the goal.

The Capitals would do their best to strike again, but a high-sticking double minor penalty on Nicklas Backstrom to former Cap Eric Belanger would put them down by one man for four minutes with only 2:26 remaining. Washington's power play didn't do itself any favors either; the Caps went 0-for-5.

The loss is the Caps' seventh straight against Western Conference opponents, third straight overall and sixth in last eight games.

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Capitals Vs. Coyotes: Caps, Coyotes Trade Goals In One-Minute Span, But Phoenix Leads 2-1 After Two

The Capitals were searching for offense. Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than to be good.

Marcus Johansson got credit for a goal that bounced off several people in front, but Martin Hanzal responded shortly after and Ray Whitney added a power play goal late to give the Coyotes a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.

Johansson drove down the left side of the ice and towards the net, throwing a centering pass to Brooks Laich in front of the crease. The puck caromed off of Hanzal and Ilya Bryzgalov before finding a way into the net. Johansson got credit for his eighth goal of the season at 8:46.

But less than one minute later, Hanzal redeemed himself. Radim Vrbata skated into the offensive zone and sent a pass to Whitney in the slot. The puck bounced past Whitney's stick, but Hanzal was there to pick it up and fire it past Michal Neuvirth at 9:35 to tie the game at 1-1.

The power play struggles continue for the Caps, who missed out on two more chances in the second period, but the Coyotes did not have any such problem. On their first power play chance of the night, Whitney scored just 26 seconds into the man advantage as he found himself enough room in the slot to wrist the puck past Neuvirth at 17:43.

The Capitals got their third PP chance of the night less than 30 seconds after Whitney's tally and will have limited time remaining on it entering the third period.

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Capitals Vs. Coyotes: Caps Play Yet Another Scoreless Period, Tied 0-0 With Coyotes

The Washington Capitals are used to not scoring in the first period. Monday's output in the first 20 minutes against the Phoenix Coyotes was nothing new as the Caps and Coyotes are scoreless after one period.

The Caps, last in the NHL with 35 first period goals, had five shots on net, as did the Coyotes. Neither team, however, had a shot in the last 8:30 of the period.

Washington had the best chance to score just 19 seconds in when Derek Morris hooked Alex Ovechkin, giving the Caps an early power play. Despite a few scoring chances, the Caps' power play struggles continued as they failed to score.

There was definitely a feeling-out process for both teams; quality scoring chances were few and far between.

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Capitals Vs. Coyotes: Starting Lineup, Mike Green Out

Via Washington Post, below is tonight's starting lineup for the Washington Capitals as they prepare to face off against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.

Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Knuble
Laich-Johansson-Semin
Chimera-Perreault-Hendricks
Steckel-Gordon-Bradley

Defense
Alzner-Carlson
Schultz-Hannan
Erskine-Sloan

Goal
Neuvirth
Varlamov

Scratches: Mike Green, Eric Fehr (shoulder) and D.J. King

One glaring omission is MIke Green, who is not in the lineup tonight.

Mike Green is not in the #Caps lineup tonight. Didn't take warm-up. Will post an update as soon as I have one.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

 

Not much is known at this point, but information will be posted as it becomes available.

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Capitals Vs. Coyotes: Caps Look To Avoid St. Valentine's Day Massacre In Phoenix

After two letdowns against Pacific Division opponents at home last week, the Washington Capitals left Verizon Center for a five-game road trip serenaded by a chorus of boos from the fans who hadn't already left for the exits. On Monday, the Caps will play their third straight game against a Pacific Division opponent and hope to avoid a St. Valentine's Day massacre in the desert when they face off with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Last Tuesday, the San Jose Sharks handed the Caps their eighth shutout loss of the season in a 2-0 contest. Saturday, Alex Ovechkin scored 1:06 into the game, but that would be all of the offense the Caps would muster in a 4-1 loss that facilitated a players-only meeting after the game. Washington fell to 3-6-1 against Western opponents this season and have now lost six straight against the West and five of seven overall.

Talking about the Capitals' scoring woes (2.00 GF/G in their past 10 games) and missing power play (no multi-PP goal games since November 26) has become much like beating a dead horse. To put things into perspective, Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata has four goals in his last three games, the same amount of goals that the Capitals as a team have in the same span. Things won't get any easier for them when they face Ilya Bryzgalov Monday. Bryzgalov is 4-0-0 in his last four starts with a .098 GAA and two shutouts. Yet, Bryzgalov lost his only career start against the Capitals, a 4-2 defeat last January at Verizon Center.

The Coyotes, like the Caps, sit in fifth place in the Western Conference and second in the Pacific Division. All-Star Keith Yandle leads the team with 46 points, followed by Ray Whitney's 42 points and Shane Doan's 37. Former Cap Eric Belanger has 24 points. A win against the Pacific would do the Caps some good; they have two more games following Monday against Pacific inhabitants when they face the Anaheim Ducks Wednesday and look for revenge against the Sharks Thursday.

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