KANATA, Ontario — Considering Olie Kolzig had played in 11 straight games for the Washington Capitals, it wasn’t a surprise backup goalie Brent Johnson got the start last night — especially considering the opponent.
Johnson had won all three of his career starts against Ottawa, but that magic ran out last night against the Senators. Ottawa beat Johnson and the Caps 5-2 at Scotiabank Place, stretching Washington’s losing streak to three as it prepares to wrap up a four-game road trip tomorrow in Raleigh, N.C., against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“It’s hard because it’s definitely a roller coaster ride throughout the year,” Caps defenseman Brian Pothier said. “You’re going to have some ups, and you’re going to have some downs, but you really can’t afford those four-or five-game losing streaks.
“You need a lot of points to make the playoffs, and those long streaks are really going to hurt you.”
The Caps were able to keep the game close until midway through the second period, when they were burned by a bad bounce. Trailing 2-1, the puck rimmed around the dasher boards, hit a rut and bounced in front of the goal, where Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson scored at 9:14.
Ottawa’s Mike Comrie added a wrister a minute later to give the Senators a 4-1 advantage.
“The bounces sometimes go their way,” said Johnson, who had a 3-0-0 record and 0.91 goals-against average against the Senators entering the game. “We had said something about the boards, and we had said there was a little chunk. All I heard was [Pothier] yelling, ‘Johnny, Johnny,’ and suddenly the puck was there. When this kind of thing is happening, the bounces don’t go your way.
“The fourth goal is one I have to work on myself. I was overanalyzing the play. I was reading too much into it, and Comrie put it over my shoulder. All the way down the line everybody has got to be better. It’s just going to be us in the room. It’s not anything else anybody is going to say. It’s coming from right here. We got to get out of this funk on the road.”
One key to Ottawa’s success was the Senators’ ability to shut down Ovechkin. The Caps forward’s shots were kept to the perimeter, although he managed to pick up an assist on Steve Eminger’s first goal of the season in the third period. For Eminger, the goal ended a 41-game scoring drought that dated to April 18.
Chris Clark scored the Caps’ other goal in the first period.
“I didn’t score, and I didn’t play very well. We have to score goals to be successful,” Ovechkin said.
Caps coach Glen Hanlon thought his group played well early but eventually was overmatched by Ottawa, which has gone 8-1-1 in its last 10 games.
“I thought we had a decent start, and after that it was a bit of a battle,” said Hanlon, whose team was 0-for-5 on the power play. “We tried to do some things against a hockey team that’s playing well right now. You can’t certainly fault our guys for how they played.”
The bad news continued for the Caps, who lost defenseman Mike Green after he blocked a shot from Christoph Schubert in the first period. Washington may have to call up a blueliner today from Hershey of the American Hockey League to play against Carolina.
“He had x-rays, and I don’t think it’s bad,” Hanlon said.