By Chris Gordon
Photo: Jamie Sabau
The Capitals made it nearly halfway through the 2015-16 NHL season without suffering back-to-back loses, winning nine straight games in December. But with Brooks Orpik, John Carlson, and Jay Beagle missing from the lineup, the Caps dropped two games in a row against two of the league’s worst teams. The games were close, with Brandon Saad scoring with just over a minute left to send Saturday’s game against Columbus to a shootout after the Capitals almost came back against Carolina on Thursday. Still, the loses are disappointing for a team that desperately wants to raise the Stanley Cup this year.
“It’s going to have to be better, it’s that simple,” goalie Braden Holtby, who took just his sixth loss of the season against Columbus, said.
Braden Holtby with a look after the game like the Caps have lost ten in a row. pic.twitter.com/An0ebdKXKI
— Ian Oland (@ianoland) January 3, 2016
Nevertheless, the Caps have positives to take out of the game, which featured some impressive individual performances and a rare mediocre game for Holtby. Despite suffering their 10th loss of the season, the Capitals outshot the Jackets 33-29 and held a 76-58 lead in attempted shots in all situations.
“We’ll be fine,” Holtby told reporters. “It wasn’t our worst game today. If I make a couple saves I know I can make, you’re not asking those questions. It doesn’t change the way we played at all.”
Tom Wilson was one of the highlights for the Capitals. After spending most of this season in the penalty box, Wilson had a breakout game with two slick assists..
“You know what, I think we should have had this game,” Wilson said. “It’s not really the outcome that we wanted, but we thought we played fairly well. The next thing now is not to lose three in a row.”
Another bright spot was the play of Marcus Johansson, who anchored the third line with Wilson and Jason Chimera as his wings. Those three players had five points against the Blue Jackets.
“I thought he was excellent,” Trotz said of Johansson. “I thought five-on-five that was our best and most productive line.”
Still, Johansson had a bitter taste in his mouth as he recalled how his performance was wasted but Washington’s late breach.
“We’ve got to find a way to close it out in the end,” the Swedish forward said. “You’re not just gonna come in here and win and take two points and go home. We knew it was going to be a tough game. We had our chances to win it, but we just couldn’t get it done.”
“We never want to lose two in a row,” he added. “We never want to lose one.”
On Tuesday, the Capitals will travel to Boston with new streak — one they hope to end.
“We pride ourselves on bouncing back,” Trotz said. “We’ve got to find a way to win.”
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