Coming into Saturday night’s tilt at Verizon Center, the second of a five-game homestand, the Washington Capitals, 1-3 in four games this season, knew they were facing a tough opponent: the undefeated Colorado Avalanche with former firecracker goalie Patrick Roy behind the bench. Unable to find any rhythm on either end of the ice, the Caps helped the Avalanche’s record remained unstained, falling 5-1 to their Western Conference opponent.
Eric Fehr was the lone Capital to score in between multiple Avalanche tallies. Alex Tanguay scored two goals, No. 1 overall 2013 draft pick Nathan MacKinnon scored his first career goal (the second the Caps have seen in three days, Elias Lindholm of the Carolina Hurricanes scored his Thursday), with Jamie McGinn rounding out the Avalanche scoresheet.
The Capitals lacked jump right out of the gate and the Avalanche fed on that the entire game. Roy told reporters he thought the damage was done after the first period, when the Avs went up 2-0 before intermission. Fehr’s goal lent the Caps some tiny hope, and though they outshot the Avalanche 41-28, they never mounted anything close to what could be called a rally.
“We jump at them right from the start,” said Roy. “I think we had a really good start. I think the damage was made after going up 2-0. They bounced really strongly in the second period.”
It was a homecoming of sorts for former Caps goalie Semyon Varlamov, who was traded to Colorado in 2011. He made 40 saves on 41 shots in his first appearance at Verizon Center since the trade.
“I think it’s so special for the goalie to beat the old team. I am excited today. We win three games on the road, we get our points and right now we are pretty happy,” said Varlamov.
While the vistor’s locker room was a jubilant place, the home locker room was dismal. The Caps have lost three straight games, and while it may not be time to panic yet, something needs to change and the players know it.
“It’s early in the season, and we can start fixing it now,” Martin Erat told reporters. “We have to just fix mistakes that we make – when it’s one mistake we can’t get another.”
Fehr agreed. “It starts on our end. We’ve got to be stronger; we’ve got make sure pucks get out,” he said.
“I think we need to want the puck a little bit more. We have to win puck battles, whether it’s in our end or their end. We need to play physical, and we need to want the puck.”