(Sports Network) - After both were eliminated from the postseason last year despite being the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference, the Capitals and Devils were unable to get their new seasons off to a winning start.
The two clubs will try to change that tonight when Washington opens its home schedule against New Jersey at the Verizon Center.
Helped by a 30-5-6 record at home, the Capitals won the Presidents' Trophy thanks to a 121-point season, but that didn't stop them from blowing a 3-1 series lead over Montreal in the postseason's opening round. The Devils, the conference's second seed and Atlantic Division champs, didn't fare much better as they were knocked off by the Flyers in the first round.
Hoping to rebound from those upsets, both Washington and New Jersey lost their season openers on Friday night. Washington dropped a 4-2 decision in Atlanta, while New Jersey suffered a 4-3 overtime loss against visiting Dallas.
The Capitals' opener was overshadowed by a scary moment early in the game when Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec collapsed in front of his own goal, losing consciousness. He was quickly attended to by trainers and carted off the ice before being taken to a local hospital.
Pavelec regained consciousness and the team announced that preliminary tests were negative.
Washington's Brooks Laich scored the game's first goal on Atlanta's Chris Mason not long after the incident, but the Thrashers scored the game's next three goals to seize control.
Mike Knuble scored in the third period and Michal Neuvirth allowed all four goals on 31 shots for the Caps.
"They just outworked us here tonight," said Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau. "You get rewarded when you outwork teams. Our guys are old enough to know they have to play better if they want to succeed. It's not as if this is their first game together. It's one game, [Saturday] we'll be at home and we'll be ready."
New Jersey will pay a visit to the Verizon Center after last night's overtime loss. Travis Zajac and Zach Parise scored less then eight minutes into the game as the Devils took control early, but the Stars battled back and earned the extra point on Loui Eriksson's tally 1:36 into OT.
Zajac also had an assist, Jason Arnott scored and Ilya Kovalchuk set up two goals in his first regular-season game since signing his much-publicized 15- year, $100 million contract this offseason.
"I thought we competed really hard and as I said before the game, it's the little things that make the difference. These things happen and we live and learn and move on. It's a long season," said Devils head coach John MacLean, who was coaching his first game with the club after taking over for the fired Jacques Lemaire.
The Devils won three of four over the Capitals last season and have won seven of their last 10 trips to Washington.