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Capitals' Journey Is Spoiled by a Trip

Washington Capitals defenseman John Erskine sends Ottawa Senators' Filip Kuba into the boards during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld)
Washington Capitals defenseman John Erskine sends Ottawa Senators' Filip Kuba into the boards during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld) (Adrian Wyld - AP)

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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 21, 2009

OTTAWA, Jan. 20 -- The Washington Capitals could have gone into the all-star break on a high, riding a winning streak and feeling good about themselves. Instead, Coach Bruce Boudreau and his players will spend the next week stewing over an undisciplined loss to an opponent they should have beaten soundly.

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The penalty-prone Capitals yielded three power-play goals, including one with 1 minute 22 seconds remaining Tuesday night that allowed Dany Heatley (two goals) and the Ottawa Senators to escape Scotiabank Place with a 3-2 victory.

"We were stupid," an incensed Boudreau said from the visitors' dressing room. "We deserved to lose. We didn't come to play in the first and third period, and when you don't come to play in two of the three periods, you're not going to win the hockey game."

The play that led to the decisive goal began with Alexander Semin attempting to make up a turnover by stripping the puck from Daniel Alfredsson. But Semin instead tripped the Senators' captain and was whistled for a minor penalty -- the Capitals' sixth of the game.

"I don't have any clue," Boudreau said when asked what Semin was attempting to accomplish with his diving swipe at Alfredsson.

With five seconds remaining on the Senators' power play, Ottawa defenseman Brendan Bell unleashed a shot that struck defenseman Karl Alzner on the shin pad. The puck came right back to Bell, who fired the shot past José Theodore, who was one of the few bright spots for Washington, finishing with 31 saves.

"José was reacting to the first shot," Boudreau said. "And the puck went right back to [Bell] and it went in. We would have lost long ago if it wasn't for José. So I'm not blaming him. I'm blaming selfish, lazy play on our part."

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Capitals. But what troubled Boudreau are two trends that are now impossible to ignore. His team has yielded at least one power-play goal in eight consecutive games, and his players have been whistled for 239 minor penalties, the fifth most in the league.

"If the [penalty kill] doesn't start getting better, we're not going nowhere," Boudreau said. "And guys are going to start losing their penalty killing jobs if they don't start getting with the program. That's horrendous."

It was a fitting end considering the manner in which the game began for the Capitals.

Mike Green was in the penalty box for roughing Ottawa pest Jarkko Ruutu when Heatley smoked a one-timer past Theodore.

About eight minutes later, Sergei Fedorov was whistled for hooking as he attempted to make up for a bad giveaway in front of the Capitals' goal. Thirty-one seconds later, Heatley had his second goal of the night (and 21st of the season) to put the Senators ahead 2-0. Heatley's no-look slap pass deflected into the net off defenseman Jeff Schultz's skate.


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