By Katie Adler
The Capitals dropped their third game in a row on Tuesday night. This time it came to the Metro Division’s last-place Columbus Blue Jackets. Though they garnered one point in the standings for getting the game to overtime that isn’t enough at this point of the season and they gave up seven goals to a team long since out of playoff contention.
An explosive start put the Caps up 3-1 in the first, but a series of defensive failures saw them give up six goals in two periods, plus the OT winner. Even worse, the disappointing game came after a touching pregame ceremony celebrating Alex Ovechkin passing Gordie Howe as the NHL’s second-leading, all-time goal scorer.
With losses piling up and only 10 games left in the regular season, the Capitals vented their frustrations after the game.
Head coach Peter Laviolette was visibly frustrated when he spoke at his press conference.
“We got to win a hockey game,” he said. “We scored six goals, and we didn’t. We’ve got to put it away, when it’s three one coming out the start of the second period. We’ve got to put it away when it’s five-three. We’ve got to put it away when we scored to go up late. We weren’t able to do any of those.”
Laviolette was asked whether the team was at a point “where the math is tough” for the Capitals to make the postseason. After the trade deadline, general manager Brian MacLellan suggested the Capitals would need 95 or 96 standings points to make the postseason, possibly more. Should the Capitals sweep the remainder of the season, they will have only 94 points.
“Yeah,” Laviolette responded. “There’s conversations there. We talk every day. Everybody realizes exactly where we’re at and what needs to be done. We didn’t get it done tonight.”
As for what the team can do to move forward from the loss?
“Just keep playing,” Ovechkin said softly. “It’s all we can do. Playing, and try to win games.”
Nick Jensen noted that the team’s defense still wasn’t up to par, despite players’ attempts to improve in their own zone.
“There’s obviously something going wrong,” he said. “So we’ve got to find those and make defense a priority. I know we’ve been saying that all year long, and it’s tough to keep repeating yourself like that. You give up seven goals in one night, you’re not going to win very many games.”
“It’s frustrating,” said Tom Wilson. “Obviously it’s not coming easy right now. I think we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit tonight. Some of these games here can kind of open hockey. That’s kind of what the other team wants and we’ve got to make sure we’re keeping it tight-good habits, good fundamentals-it just got away from us a little.”
Still, Wilson went on to note the bittersweet feelings surrounding the night, which contained both another self-inflicted loss and a celebration of Ovechkin’s great achievement. The Capitals captain went on to set another record, scoring his 40th goal of the season to pass Wayne Gretzky in all-time 40-goal seasons.
“It’s a beyond special night,” Wilson explained. “Something that you’ll remember forever, and it would have been nice to get the win. I’m extremely happy for O, to see his family.
“He’s an amazing man and an amazing hockey player. It’s too bad we couldn’t get the two points, but I’ll remember this night for him, for his family, for the rest of my life.”
Full Coverage of Alex Ovechkin’s Gr802 Night
Screenshot via Capitals
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