4-game dropping streak has Capitals ‘working out of room’ in playoff chase

4-game dropping streak has Capitals ‘working out of room’ in playoff chase
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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Washington Capitals returned to a silent locker room shortly after 11 p.m. on Saturday night time, shedding their gear and wiping off their eye-black because the Carolina Hurricanes, who had simply overwhelmed them, 4-1, might be heard celebrating within the quarters subsequent door. The scene was as stark as the blowout that had played out over the prior three hours within the open air of Carter-Finley Stadium — one group having fun with its continued rise as a Stanley Cup contender, the opposite reeling after a fourth straight loss and one other missed alternative to earn factors in a tightening playoff race.

After their most tough week of the season, a bunch of Capitals veterans spared no descriptors for his or her newest dud.

“This isn’t ok,” ahead Tom Wilson stated.

“It doesn’t look good, that’s for certain,” heart Nicklas Backstrom stated.

“We’re type of working out of room,” winger T.J. Oshie stated. “I feel our playoff hockey in all probability begins on this subsequent week right here, in any other case we’re going to be on the surface wanting in.”

Caps are left out in the cold during 4-1 loss to Hurricanes in Stadium Series

That’s the place the Capitals will start the week — out of the playoffs and sitting a degree behind the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders for the second wild card spot within the Japanese Convention. There are six groups inside a degree of one another within the wild-card race — the Capitals, with 62 factors, obtained some assist Saturday with a number of of these groups dropping — however with 24 video games remaining and potential adjustments looming forward of the March 3 commerce deadline, the clock is ticking on Washington’s push to make a ninth consecutive postseason look.

A vital stretch arrives this week, together with video games in opposition to the Detroit Crimson Wings and the Buffalo Sabres, each groups which have closed the hole within the chase for a wild-card berth.

“Now we have to get our confidence again, we now have to get our swagger again slightly bit,” Wilson stated. “It’s robust if you lose a pair in a row. We’re going to regroup right here and attempt to get the group collectively right here.”

After starting the second half of the season with a promising win over the Boston Bruinswho personal the league’s finest document, Washington misplaced appreciable floor final week. The Capitals led in none of their 4 losses over a six-day stretch, had been outscored 17-7 in these contests and struggled to compensate for the absence of Alex Ovechkin, who stays away from the group after the death of his father. Washington can be nonetheless lacking heart Nic Dowd, who continues to get better from a decrease physique harm, in addition to defenseman John Carlson, who stays out after being hit within the facet of the pinnacle with a puck earlier this season.

“Clearly lacking our quantity ahead and our primary defenseman, that doesn’t assist. However the guys within the lineup are greater than able to getting us wins,” Oshie stated. “We haven’t been taking part in ok to try this.”

Washington’s newest loss resembled the three others that got here earlier than it final week. From the outset, Carolina performed in a special gear, dictating the tempo and exposing the Capitals’ lack of pace. The Hurricanes managed the impartial zone and swarmed Washington on the boards. With out Ovechkin, Washington once more struggled to get high quality seems to be on the web — the Capitals mustered simply 15 pictures on objective by the primary two intervals as Carolina took a 4-0 lead — and squandered its two energy play alternatives. The Capitals have scored twice on their 13 energy performs over this four-game skid.

When Backstrom was requested what wanted to be mounted within the Capitals’ method, he replied, “The whole lot, to be sincere with you. D-zone, impartial zone, offensive zone. It’s not working.”

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The Capitals did get a lift with the return of Wilson, who appeared in his first recreation Saturday after struggling a decrease physique harm in late January. He was energetic, laying a number of of his signature checks and drawing a penalty within the first interval. Wilson scored Washington’s solely objective in the midst of the third interval, muscling his approach down the left facet of the ice and beating Carolina goaltender Frederik Anderson with a slap shot after creating separation from a Hurricanes defender.

Wilson, who has performed in simply 9 video games this season after offseason knee surgical procedure, stated afterward that he was working on adrenaline from the raucous out of doors environment, and that he wanted to work on his conditioning. “We have to get going right here and get again to work,” he stated, and that sentiment was echoed throughout the somber locker room.

The Capitals don’t know when Ovechkin would possibly return. As they bused to the stadium for observe on Friday night, their telephones pinged with a message from their captain. He instructed them that he beloved them and missed them, Wilson stated, and most of the gamers responded with messages of prayer and help. For now, the Capitals are with out the face of the franchise, returning house this week to aim to save lots of their season whereas awaiting Ovechkin’s return.

“I feel the one reply to getting some swagger again is to get wins,” Oshie stated. “And to get wins proper now, we have to play a playoff fashion hockey.”

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