Following the Washington Capitals dispiriting 5-1 loss in Columbus Friday night, the Caps needed to come out Sunday against the New York Rangers and play with a renewed focus, intent on breaking the current 4-game losing streak. Instead, the Caps gave up a goal less than two minutes in the game and was owned by the home-standing Rangers, 4-1.
The now 5-game skid is the longest in Washington since the 8-game losing streak in December 2010.
The game was just 70 seconds old when Dmitry Orlov tried to play a delicate pass to Nick Backstrom to get out of his own end, and instead Rick Nash picked it off easily, skated in alone, and lifted a backhander over the helpless Philipp Grubauer as the Rangers took a 1-0 lead before the fans had filled the seats.
The Caps then had the better of play for a little while, but after a chanceless power play, the Rangers were granted a 5-on-3 chance after Martin Erat hooked in the offensive zone, then Karl Alzner hooked Mats Zuccarrello just 27 seconds into the first penalty. It took mere moments for Nash to record his second goal of the game and 14th of the season, as his wrist shot from the right wing circle slipped between Grubauer’s legs.
As the power play was expiring, Derek Stepan used Troy Brouwer as a screen, and his wrister got through as Grubauer could never find it. Just like that, the Caps were down 3-0.
The Caps had a 5-on-3 opportunity at the start of the second period and they took advantage of it, as Alex Ovechkin notched his 35 of the season, from the left wing circle, evading Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
But these days the Caps can’t handle prosperity, as the Rangers victimized the Caps shorthanded. Dominic Moore corralled a turnover in the Caps end, raced up the ice and unleashed a long shot on Holtby, who managed to kick it into the slot. Unfortunately, Ryan Callahan had outraced Orlov to the spot and slammed home the rebound to make it 4-1.
The Caps didn’t put up much of an effort for a comeback in the third period.
Maybe the biggest thing of importance in this one was Martin Erat taking three minor penalties. With his trade request already in the books, this game (and the need for a shake-up) could very well be enough for Oates and McPhee to remove him from the playing roster.
The Capitals host the Ottawa Senators Tuesday at 7:00 pm.