With Little to Play For, Capitals Are Lifeless in Loss
Sunday, April 9, 2006
UNIONDALE, N.Y., April 8 -- For two weeks and eight consecutive games, the Washington Capitals' opponent was a playoff-bound team. And their effort reflected that.
Saturday night, Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals were up against an opponent with nothing to play for, one that had lost six in a row and is facing an offseason shakeup. And the Capitals' effort reflected that, too.
Looking thoroughly uninterested for long stretches, the Capitals surrendered four power-play goals -- three in the first period -- to the New York Islanders, who cruised to a 5-0 victory at Nassau Coliseum. Ovechkin's goal drought, meantime, reached six games, matching his longest of the season.
It was the letdown everyone feared. But it ended up worse than anyone had imagined.
"The fact of the matter is it's game 77, we're out of the playoffs and we traveled here for our second game" in two nights, Capitals Coach Glen Hanlon said. "Our kids are human."
Capitals captain Jeff Halpern was considerably more critical of his team, which was outshot 45-20.
"We didn't show up," Halpern said. "From the drop of the puck, we weren't skating, we weren't thinking. To give up that many shots on [backup goalie Brent Johnson], who played well. We didn't do anything right."
Capitals defenseman Shaone Morrisonn may feel even worse on Sunday. He could get a call from the NHL regarding his knee-to-knee hit on Sean Bergenheim in the final seconds of the third period. Bergenheim, who was clutching his right knee, had to be helped off the ice; Morrisonn received a minor penalty for kneeing and left favoring his right knee.
The loss was the Capitals' fourth in a row and second in two nights, and marked the first time they had been shut out since back-to-back 5-0 losses to Tampa Bay and Florida in early February. Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro helped his team earn its first shutout of the season.
With both teams having been eliminated from playoff contention, the only item of any consequence was Ovechkin's quest for 50 goals and 100 points, a feat accomplished by only one rookie in NHL history. Teemu Selanne had 76 goals and 132 points for Winnipeg in 1992-93.
Ovechkin also was held pointless for the first time in 11 games. The NHL's leader in shots on goal finished with three in 19 minutes 39 seconds of ice time.
"We didn't move," Ovechkin said. "Maybe we are tired. I don't know what's wrong. Before the game we feel good in warmup, we feel the energy. Then I don't know what happened in the first period. They score three goals."