In an all-too-common turn of events, the Washington Capitals lost on Thursday night, this time falling to the division-worst Montreal Canadiens 6-2.
The Caps have now dropped five-straight games. The L also marked their first since they were officially eliminated from postseason contention on Tuesday.
The 6-2 shelling may have been even worse than the scoreboard indicates: two of the Habs’ markers came shorthanded, while Joel Armia scored a hat trick with his fifth, sixth, and seventh goals of the season.
Postgame, no one on the Capitals had much good to say about the performance.
“I think everyone needs to look at themselves and realize we’ve got to play better,” said Dylan Strome, who scored one of the two Capitals’ goals. “It’s not good enough.
“We’re all proud guys in here and to go out there and do that tonight doesn’t reflect each of us,” he added. “I think that was not our best game. I think we’ve got to be better than that. I don’t think it was anywhere near good enough.”
Matt Irwin was similarly frustrated with the loss.
“It’s disappointing, obviously,” Irwin said. “We expect a lot more out of ourselves as a group here.”
The Capitals are now in the unfamiliar position of playing games without the possibility of a playoff spot. Even in largely meaningless games, Irwin emphasized the importance of trying to win.
“It’s a pride thing,” he said. “You want to put your best foot forward every night and compete. We’re fortunate to be able to lace them up and play in this league. We’ve got to expect a lot more out of ourselves.”
Despite the poor performance, Irwin rejected any notion that the team had given up on the season.
“It’s not that we’re not trying,” he explained. “We have intentions to play well. We’ve just got to find a way.”
Nicolas Aube-Kubel was more straightforward with his analysis of the team.
“I feel like we had the same mindset [of still trying to win games] before this game and we didn’t show up,” NAK said. “So it’s interesting what’s going to happen the rest of the year.”
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette disagreed when asked if execution, not effort, was the reason for the team’s failures.
“I think the effort needs to be better in portions of the game, certainly the second period,” he said. “Just the speed and the battle and the purpose inside of the game, we’ve got to find a way to be better at that.
“That, and you add in the details of faceoffs or specialty teams and just making sure that we’re sharp with what we’re doing. I think that we can be better in a lot of areas.”
With Anthony Mantha out of the lineup last-minute with a lower-body injury, the Capitals played with only 17 skaters for Thursday’s game. Aube-Kubel rejected any notion that the team’s poor play could be blamed on playing a man down.
“I feel like we’ve been dealing with injury the whole year and we’ve been able to play better than that,” he said.
With four remaining games, the team still hopes to perform well and offer a stronger end to a disappointing season.
“Everyone likes winning; no one likes losing,” said Strome. “It makes everything better when you win.”
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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