In the first two games with Dale Hunter as coach, the Capitals have been outshot a combined 65-36. Against the Penguins in a 2-1 loss Thursday night at Verizon Center, Washington was outshot 35-17, took just two shots in the third period and none in the final 5:32 of play.
While part of it can be attributed to the process of fully assimilating to Hunter’s defense-first system and creating offense from it, that doesn’t mean the Capitals don’t want to see their scoring come to life quickly.
“It can’t be down the line. It’s got to be now,” said Jason Chimera, who scored the lone goal against the Penguins for his 10th of the season. “We’ve got to get people stepping up and scoring some goals, doing the little things. It was a good game overall, they had a lot of shots but a lot of them were outside. It’s a tough way to lose, but if we got that kind of effort it’ll be pretty good. We came out pretty good. If we keep up the effort like that, the wins will come.”
Washington had 15 attempted shots blocked and 10 others that missed the net entirely, but given how games may now be tighter and lower-scoring, the team can’t afford spend time in the offensive zone without creating quality chances.
“It was something new for us. It’s new system,” Alex Ovechkin said. “I think when you get the cycle you have to go to the net — right now it’s just a period of time. Goals is going to come, it’s not going to be like we score every game one goal it’s never going to happen to this team. . . .We have to get used” to the system.
The Capitals found the physical side of their game against the rivals and were credited with 43 hits to Pittsburgh’s 28. But again they couldn’t seem to find a way to score that second goal that allows them a little bit of a cushion.
Forty-one seconds after Chimera’s goal tied the score at 1 early in the middle stanza, Nicklas Backstrom had arguably the best chance to put Washington ahead by another goal but his shot ticked off the crossbar and above the cage.
“We need to get over that hump, whatever it is we need that big goal to get over that hump from somebody,” Chimera said. “We played well again, we played hard. The effort’s there we’ve just got to get more pucks to the net. We were in their zone but we’ve got to get more pucks to the net.”