Several times times this season, the Washington Capitals have gone through stretches where they've struggled to score goals. After Saturday night's loss to the visiting Atlanta Thrashers at Verizon Center it appears the Capitals have hit another one of those stretches.
In their 3-1 loss, their third of the season to the Thrashers, the Capitals pumped 46 shots on Ondrej Pavelec, yet managed to get only one to go into the back of the net.
Counting the one goal the Capitals scored in the 38 shots they registered on Thursday in their 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, the Capitals have scored just two goals on their last 84 shots, a stat that is not going to win very many hockey games.
"I think it's a lack of commitment to paying the price to score," said Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau. "We're all wanting to score, but we're staying on the perimeter hoping to get the puck rather than being the guy that's going to the puck."
The Capitals managed 35 shots through the first two periods Saturday night, but many of them came from the tops of the circles. Very few came from below the circles, or the slot area. The only goal the Capitals did score was an Alex Ovechkin goal from the right circle on a cross-ice pass from Alexander Semin at 19:12 of the second period.
The goal came on the Capitals 34th shot of the game.
"It looked like we didn't get very many second shots," said Boudreau. "You can have 100 perimeter shots and it looks good on the [scoreboard], but if they're [Atlanta] not taking penalties cross-checking you in the back, then you're not fighting to get through there."
Added Jason Chimera, "We're not doing enough to score. So, [Pavelec] played well, but when a goalie is playing well it's for a reason. There's not enough traffic and they're able to see pucks."
Ovechkin's goal ended a nine-game goalless drought, and gave the Capitals some much needed momentum heading into the third period. Despite out-shooting the Thrashers 20-13 in the second period, the Capitals found themselves trailing, 2-1, as the Thrashers got goals on a deflection from Rich Peverley at 7:57 and Alexander Burmistrov at 9:29 on a shot from the goalinethat beat Capitals' netminder Semyon Varlamov over his right shoulder.
The momentum from Ovechkin's goal, however, was short lived.
David Steckel was whistled for kneeing at 2:19 of the third after colliding with Atlanta's Tobias Enstrom in the Thrashers zone.
Eight seconds later, Andrew Ladd beat Varlamov from the bottom of the left circle on a one-time pass from Peverley to push the Thrashers lead back to two goals.
"Yea, I think that was a pretty big momentum [killer]," said Capitals defenseman John Carlson of Ladd's goal. "We were up on ourselves after that goal and they came right back pretty quickly and it took a little bit of life out of us, but it's no excuse."
Washington did manage to get two power play opportunities in the third period, but were unable to beat Pavelec on either one. Mike Green had the best chance as he riffled a shot from the slot high to the right corner of the net, but Paveleceasily snatched it with his glove.
"I don't think we played that bad," said Chimera."It's just when we needed that push we didn't get that extra little push."