Historic season hangs by a thread.
Southeast Race: Canes Shut Down Caps
None of these guys scored Tuesday night. They almost did though. Photo by Clyde Caplan
Lackadaisical—lacking spirit, life, or zest. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online)
“You need to put up better effort if you’re going to make the playoffs,” said Nicklas Backstrom Tuesday night.
Lackadaisical, lackluster—whatever adjective you choose, the Washington Capitals inspired mediocrity and a few boos in the 4-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The team that won eight of 12 games between Feb. 9 and March 9 showed up in spurts: a few chances for Marcus Johnasson, Troy Brouwer’s shorthanded breakaway, Steve Olesky’s pounding of fists into Drayson Bowman’s head.
While the shot differential (36-26) increased after the first period, the real disparity lay in the gap in quality of chances. Verizon could only groan as Justin Peters stalled any good looks the Caps got in his second win of the season.
“Obviously, you want to try and create space there [in the division] and we were focused on tonight, coming in here and trying to do that,” said Peters of his second shutout against Washington.
The defense of the Southeast Division’s top team limited the Caps, with Jay Harrison often getting in the way. Captain Marc Staal led Carolina’s aggressive forecheck, shutting down Washington when he wasn’t generating chances.
Olesky’s third period fight got the crowd energetic, but, as whenever the Caps worked up anything on the ice, the Canes were there to shut it down.
After building up to look like they could make it into the top eight; either by fighting into the last spot or taking the Southeast; the Caps are 10 points out.
The past three losses are reminiscent of the early season slide that put Washington in their current position, but according to Karl Alzner, they are not for the same reasons.
“We know how to play, we know what we’re supposed to do, we know how hard it is and sometimes we take shortcuts to get around it,” said Alzner, who led the team in minutes and was on the ice for two of Carolina’s goals.
The Capitals travel to North Carolina for their next game.
Coach Adam Oates realizes the importance of improving for Thursday, “They’re all big right now.”
Old-fashioned photos by Taylor Lewis