Slow Start Sinks the Capitals

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur stops a shot by Washington's Tomas Fleischmann. New Jersey has won nine in a row.
Devils goalie Martin Brodeur stops a shot by Washington's Tomas Fleischmann. New Jersey has won nine in a row. (Jim McIsaac - Getty Images)
By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 8, 2007

NEWARK, Dec. 7 -- Bruce Boudreau has been behind the Washington Capitals' bench for only seven games. But the interim coach has apparently had enough.

Enough of the inconsistent efforts. Enough of the egregious turnovers. Enough of the excuses.

Friday night, after the injury-depleted Capitals' sloppy 3-2 loss to Martin Brodeur and the red-hot New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center, Boudreau made good on his promise to hold everyone accountable with some pointed remarks.

"We can sit there and look for positives all we want," Boudreau said. "But the bottom line is we didn't get the job done. In this league, you have to play for 60 minutes at the top of your game."

Boudreau was particularly upset with his team's listless first period, an almost unfathomable effort considering the team was coming off a five-day break between games. The Devils scored twice -- once after an errant clearing pass and the other on the power play -- then did just enough late to hang on for their ninth straight victory, tied for third longest in franchise history.

"Hockey is simple," Boudreau said. "It comes down to the will and the want. If you want it more than them, and you're willing to pay the price more than them, you're going to have success. We have to compete harder every night. They wanted it more."

Olie Kolzig (19 saves) and the Capitals dropped to 3-3-1 under Boudreau, lost for the fourth time in five games, and remained stuck at the bottom of the NHL standings with 20 points in 28 games. It was also their 10th loss by a single goal.

The Capitals did, however, manage to make it interesting at the end for the 16,265 in attendance.

Alexander Semin's first goal this season pulled the Capitals to within 2-1 at 5 minutes 48 seconds of the third period when he ripped a perfectly placed snap shot over Brodeur's shoulder. Rookie Nicklas Backstrom set up the goal with a deft pass from behind the net.

But only 41 seconds later, Devils defenseman Sheldon Brookbank fired a shot from the point that wound up in Kolzig's pads. Kolzig, though, never had control of the puck and Travis Zajac slipped loose from Tom Poti just long enough to whack it into the net and restore the Devils' two-goal cushion, 3-1.

Capitals grinder Brooks Laich scored an unassisted goal with 1:17 left to play in the game, but it proved to be too little too late.

"We weren't moving our legs in the first period," said Laich, who is tied for third on the team with five goals. "If you look at it, the first period was the difference in the game. We had no reason to come out sluggish."

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