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The Washington Capitals 3-0 shutout win over the Calgary Flames on November 25 sparked hope for a consistent string of performances for Head Coach Peter Laviolette’s club, with consistency and a full 60 minutes something the team highlighted earlier this season. Their 5-1 lopsided dance with the New Jersey Devils last night, however, left the club searching for further answers to their continuing struggles.
The loss to Jack Hughes and Co. at Prudential Center saw the Caps fail to get the puck past former netminder Vitek Vanecek until the third period, when a lone John Carlson goal ended the former Capital’s shutout bid. While Washington showed some strong momentum, they were ultimately unable to get by the Devils.
“Yeah, he [Vanecek] had a good game”, said defenseman Tevor van Riemsdyk, “We put a lot of pucks at the net and created a lot, but the bounces didn’t go our way, that’s the way it goes sometimes.” van Riemsdyk, who played 16:05 and finished the game with a minus-1 rating, deemed finishing the team’s chances offensively was key to the Caps’ loss. “We created a bit, I didn’t think we gave up a whole lot, they made the most of our chances, and we just weren’t able to put ours in.”
Center Lars Eller agreed, noting that the Capitals felt confident in their ability to put more past Vanecek than the scoreboard allowed; the team outshot the Devils by a 38-29 margin.
“I certainly felt like we had the chances, the quality of chances, to get I don’t know, four, five, or six goals, but just couldn’t capitalize.”
“I think just not scoring goals, not capitalizing on our chances, we got the chances especially today”, said Eller of the difference for the club on the road versus at home (the team has 36 Goals For and 34 Goals Against at home while scoring 26 Goals For and allowing 38 Goals Against away from Capital One), ” But we only walked away with one goal, could have five or six with the looks we had, yeah they’re just not going in right now.”
Center Nic Dowd summed up the night bluntly.
“I mean frustrating is I think, a strong word. I think honestly it’s great we’re creating those chances, I thought we played really in the o-zone, and we did a lot. Their goalie played really well tonight you got to tip your cap to him. I think it’s more worrisome when you’re not creating chances and you’re losing hockey games. That wasn’t a 5-1 hockey game tonight in my opinion..”
Laviolette, while admitting that there were things the Caps may have given New Jersey some opportunities, agreed with his players’ sentiment that the club’s inability to finish hurt them overall.
“Unfortunate result for the game the way it was played. They had some bounces that went their way, I thought our guys pressed all night. There was a few things that could have led to some chances, but there wasn’t a lot…I thought the mistakes they did make, they were able to come back quickly the other way and capitalized on their chances.”
By Michael Fleetwood