It’s got to be payback time for the Washington Capitals.
The team has to be angry after blowing a third period lead (not for the first time this season, but still) on Thursday night against the New Jersey Devils. A lack of discipline was the main culprit, as the Caps took five penalties in the last 20 minutes, and the cost was getting zero points at a time when they can’t afford to lose more ground in the East.
Fortunately, Washington has a chance to immediately right that wrong when it takes on New Jersey again at Verizon Center in a rare consecutive game against the same team in the same place. To get some revenge, the Caps will have to fix several problems that popped up early in the season but seemed to have gone away last week.
Aside from the aforementioned conga line to the penalty box, Alex Ovechkin has once again gone missing from the box score. The captain seemed to be heating up when the Caps went on a three-game winning streak last week, but he’s now been held without a point for three straight games. Ovi was still aggressive, creating chances and looking for opportunities to hit people, but that’s not going to be enough with his team desperate to climb in the standings.
The goaltending situation doesn’t seem to be as big a question, as Braden Holtby has played well during his five consecutive starts. Yet he’s given up 13 goals in the last four games after his February 9 shutout of the Florida Panthers, and another loss today may finally allow Michal Neuvirth to get back in the rotation.
The Caps could also really use their main puckhandling defenseman Mike Green back in the lineup. Green has been out for two games with a lower-body injury and appears to be a dreaded game time decision again today.
It’s not going to be easy to beat the Devils, but nothing is easy for the Caps right now. At 5-10-1, they’re almost at the point where people start talking about “must-win” games to have a realistic shot at the postseason. The team needs another winning streak, and starting one today would sure be nice.
New Jersey Devils at Washington Capitals
Start time : 12 noon EST
TV: NHL Network