By the end of the first, in addition to trailing by three, Washington had been outshot 16-5 with only three players — Mike Knuble (2), Alexander Semin (2) and Marcus Johansson — managing to shoot on Peters.
“You want to do something [to respond] but you never even have a chance,” Jeff Halpern said. “We were bad at the beginning of the game, bad in the middle of the game, bad at the end of the game. That’s really all there is. We were just bad all night.”
(Karl B DeBlaker/Associated Press) - Carolina Hurricanes goalie Justin Peters (35) looks for the loose puck with teammate Jamie McBain (4) and Washington Capitals' Jeff Halpern (15) nearby during the second period.
In the final 40 minutes, although Brouwer and Matt Hendricks (twice) would drop the gloves out of frustration the Capitals never showed an ability to fight their way back into the contest as a group.
On their earliest opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the second, a power play with Derek Joslin in the box for elbowing, the Capitals instead gave up another goal. Dennis Wideman fell down at the point, springing Staal on a breakaway. The Carolina captain beat Neuvirth five-hole to make it 4-0 5:56 into the second.
Staal scored again 5:51 into the third, when no one covered him back door on the right-hand side of the net.
All told, the Capitals were outhustled, outshot 40-17 and out-hit 24-16 in their most lopsided loss since Nov. 19, when they fell 7-1 at Toronto. These are the types of games the players know they can’t afford if they want to reach the postseason.
“This time of year you’ve got to be playing good hockey, to come out and just stink right out of the gate — play sloppy, not characteristic of how we’re gonna play — it’s very disappointing for our group,” Knuble said. “That being said, you can’t feel sorry. There’s another game. We’re still in the thick of things, we still have a chance to have a .500 trip with a win in Ottawa. It’s hard to say move on — forget, move on, but the next task is a big game and hopefully a big win in Ottawa.”
Capitals notes: Rookie defenseman Dmitry Orlov was scratched because of an illness, according to the team. . . . Alex Ovechkin missed the final 6:02 of the second period with what the team said was a skate problem but he was seen limping after the game. He returned to the game for the start of the third period, finishing with 15:43 played. Brooks Laich didn’t play the last 10:23 and it’s possible he aggravated the left knee injury he suffered Feb. 2 against Boston.