WASHINGTON – The Washington Capitals were shut out for the first time of the season Tuesday night, mustering just 17 shots on net against the New York Islanders as the Capitals snapped a three-game winning streak with a 3-0 loss in front of an announced 18,506 fans at Verizon Center.
Over Washington’s last 12 games, the Capitals have been outshot in 11 of those games despite winning seven of those contests. On Tuesday, the Capitals were out-shot, 28-17. Washington (24-18-2, 50 points) struggled to clear its own zone for much of the game, especially in the first two periods. The Capitals were out-shot 18-10 in the first two frames.
“Every team plays different; you can go over the blue line and take a slap shot,” Washington head coach Dale Hunter said of the lack of shots on net. “Instead of dumping it in the corner, you can just take a slap shot from the blue line and it’s a shot on net. We were a little bit too cute around the net. A few of the guys were trying to make the third pass. And [the Islanders] were just sliding all over the place blocking them. We definitely have to get more pucks to the net.”
Tuesday’s game was Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun’s tenth straight start in net for Hunter. The loss was just Vokoun’s third in that 10-game stretch. Vokoun played well during that span – six of the games in which Washington earned wins, the team was out-shot and Vokoun was essential in the victories. But Vokoun, who had 25 saves on the night, couldn’t help bail out the Capitals against the Islanders, who out-worked and out-chanced the Capitals throughout the game.
“We didn’t have any zone time in their zone,” Vokoun said. “We have couple good shifts, but that was it. You would think, team coming here [that] play last night…a team who’s back in standings, we gonna be putting pressure on them and make it a long night for them. That wasn’t the case.”
New York (17-21-6, 40 points) got power play goals from John Tavares (his 17th goal on the year) in the first period and PA Paranteau in the third. Paranteau, who now has nine goals on the year, had a goal at even strength in the second period. The Capitals killed off only half of the Islanders’ four power plays.
“Just mistakes, and it’s costing us where there are mistakes, and people are getting beat,” Hunter said of his team’s work on the penalty kill. “And the video don’t lie [about] who gets beat or not. So they’ll know their mistakes and giveaways. And definitely two power play goals, we didn’t get back to the net and we didn’t get down on one. We give them the goals that they got.”
Throughout the game, Washington had a lot of problems clearing its own zone, and the Islanders benefited from that by having extended periods of time in the Capitals’ zone, which also, of course, means that the Capitals aren’t generating shots on net at the other end. Washington forward Joel Ward, who skated 10:16 on the night, said that it’s just a matter of simple execution in the defensive zone.
“Just being aware of what’s going on in your surroundings on the ice and making smart plays,” Ward said of how the Capitals need to improve in their defensive zone. “Most teams play a pretty basic system nowadays; it’s just a matter of executing and we just failed to do so.”