The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Capitals have coughed up first goal for nine straight games

(Nick Wass/AP)
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A narrative of slow starts has followed the Washington Capitals through personnel and coaching changes, seemingly forever linked to the organization. The team has gotten out to a good 18-game record (12-5-1), but it has continued its struggles early in games, allowing the first goal for nine straight games.

Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said the reputation for slow starts to the season must be changed from within the locker room. But the streak of trailing first in games isn’t as concerning, Trotz said, because Washington has actually improved in its first periods when compared to last season.

“You look at the chances for and against and you look at maybe zone time and things like that, they’ve been probably fairly even,” Trotz said. “Last year, they really weren’t that way. They were sort of one-sided for the opposition a little bit more than you’d like to see. I think they’re probably a little bit more even right now, but we haven’t scored a lot of the first goal.

“We’ve had to chase the game a little bit and kick it up at times. Sometimes, we’ve been successful and sometimes we haven’t.”

The Capitals are 6-1 when they score first and 6-4-1 when the opponent scores first. According to war-on-ice.com, Washington has a 52.6 shots for percentage in the first period, but the Corsi percentage, which measures shot attempts taken, is 49.8, which jumps to 53 percent in the second period and then 57.4 percent in the third period.

The third period has been the strongest for the Capitals, who rank fourth in the league with 22 goals. That’s an improvement from last season, when Washington’s third periods were its worst with a Corsi percentage of 49.3 in the regular season. The Capitals have scored their fewest number of goals in the first period with 14.

As for allowing the first goal in nine straight games, Trotz said there’s no systematic way to change that.

“Other than sneaking a puck in there before anybody gets out there,” Trotz said. “You’ve just got to come out there and play. There’s no guarantee.”

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