There was little flow to the contest after the Avalanche took the initial lead on the fluky goal. Throughout the contest, pucks seemed to have minds of their own. Passes went off the skates of linesmen and referees, and bounced awkwardly off the boards, contributing to the haphazard play. But that didnt’t excuse the Capitals’ inability to put pressure on Colorado, the youngest team in the NHL, which owned the 26th-ranked penalty kill in the league entering the game.
On Washington’s power plays, the best opportunities went to the Avalanche. In the first period, rookie Gabriel Landeskog broke free for two shots. In the second, Ryan O’Reilly collected the puck for a short-handed breakaway that Neuvirth kept out with a left-pad kick save. Coupled with Washington’s sudden inability to convert at even strength — it has just three goals at five-on-five over the past three games — the missed power-play opportunities make for a stalling offense.
“We’ve got to find a way to score some goals five-on-five, we’re not doing enough to get five-on-five goals,” Jason Chimera said. “Our power play’s got to get better, we’ve got to get more sustained pressure. We must need that lecture a little more. We’re playing just good enough to be in games — we’ve got to play better to win them.”
With 13:09 gone in the second period, Alexander Semin put the Capitals on the scoreboard with a wrist shot that zipped into the top right-hand corner of the net, beating Giguere short-side. It marked Semin’s first goal in nine games, since Nov. 23 in Winnipeg, but the 1-1 tie wouldn’t last long.
Just 54 seconds later, Colorado took back its advantage. Erik Johnson took a shot from the right point through gridlock in front of the Capitals’ net, and it’s possible the puck redirected before entering the net to make it 2-1 and knock the visitors back on their heels.
In the third, Washington couldn’t find a way to establish itself offensively and looked slow against a spry, energetic Avalanche lineup. The Capitals went without a shot from Karl Alzner’s 60-foot slap shot 2:15 into the third until Jason Chimera snapped the puck toward Giguere with 14:23 elapsed. They finish the third tied in shots (seven) with the Avalanche, but it was an effort that came too late.
“It’s pretty hard when you play pretty good, I think, but you don’t win the game,” Alex Ovechkin said. “These kind of situation you want to stay together when we lose the game. It’s kind of situation where you have to look in the mirror and say, ‘What are you doing over there? How hard do you play over there?’ ”
Capitals notes: Mike Green missed a 17th consecutive game with a strained right groin muscle. The defenseman rejoined the team in Colorado after visiting with a specialist about the injury earlier in the week. . . . Fourth-line center Mathieu Perreault did not return to the game after the first period because of an illness, according to a team spokesman. . . . Cody Eakin and Jeff Schultz were healthy scratches.