Although new Washington Capitals coach Dale Hunter’s system stresses defense and forechecking, he realizes his team has to do a better job of scoring.
A game against the Ottawa Senators could help.
The sputtering Capitals look to avoid a fifth straight loss Saturday night when they host a Senators team that allows more goals per game than any other.
Washington (12-11-1) has lost its first two games under Hunter by identical 2-1 scores. After finishing with 19 shots Tuesday against St. Louis, the Capitals were held to 17 versus Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Washington, which had finished with fewer than 20 shots in only two of its 22 games under Bruce Boudreau, managed two shots in the decisive third period against the Penguins.
“They’re learning a new system, but we’ve got to move the puck quicker out of our own end,” Hunter said. “We’re spending too much time and it wears down our offense.”
Washington has been limited to one goal in each of its last three games and six times in the last 10. Not surprisingly, the Capitals are 2-7-1 in that stretch.
“I think it’s a little period of time when we have to find our way back to get success, back to what we used to be,” Ovechkin said. “We’re not going to lose every game. But we have to score more than one goal to win the game.”
Facing Ottawa might be just what the Capitals need.
The Senators (12-11-2) have surrendered 16 goals in their last four contests, and the 3.40 goals per game they allow are the most in the NHL.
Washington didn’t have a huge offensive outburst in its first game of the season against Ottawa on Oct. 15, but goals from Nicklas Backstrom(notes) and Marcus Johansson(notes) were enough to lead the Capitals to a 2-1 victory. Tomas Vokoun(notes), who has a 3.03 goals-against average in losing his last three starts, stopped 33 shots to help Washington defeat the Senators for the fourth time in five meetings.
The Senators appeared to be in position to beat the Stars up 2-1 in the third, but they allowed two goals in the final 5:34 and lost for the third time in five games.
“I thought the first 55 minutes we played real well, but unfortunately we played defensive the last five minutes,” Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. “We couldn’t get the puck out of our end when we had opportunities.
“When you have a lead in this league, you have to continue to play hard. You can’t take things for granted.”
Milan Michalek(notes) gave the Senators a 2-1 advantage at 11:42 of the final period with his team-leading 15th goal. Michalek, who finished with 18 goals last season, didn’t score his 15th until Feb. 23.