On Monday against Toronto, the Capitals not only failed to find their killer instinct but stopped playing. Shift lengths grew longer, positioning became lax and nearly every bad habit in the book surfaced for Washington en route to a 5-4 shootout loss to the Maple Leafs.
The Capitals are still 12-0-1 when leading at the end of two periods, but in a season where the manner in which they win -- and how finely tuned they can be by the postseason -- matters just as much as how many victories they claim.
"Like [assistant coach] Dean [Evason] said, last year none of this stuff ever happened," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. Depending on how you handle it -- if you handle it as a learning tool and it becomes valuable by the end of the year. If you don't learn from it, it just becomes same old same old."
Washington faces the Florida Panthers, who are on a two-game winning streak thanks to an overtime and shootout victory, for the first time in the 2010-11 season Thursday. They're the last Southeast Division opponent to face the Capitals this year and it's a big opportunity for Washington to get back on track.
"We want to beat everybody that we play," Boudreau said. "That's what the message is [Wednesday at practice]. We are not here just to wait until the playoffs, because if you don't play good, you're not going to make the playoffs. I think we're six points up on eighth place right now, something like that. It can all change in a week, so we've got to turn it around."
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AROUND THE WEB
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