Alex Ovechkin could only watch the game in street clothes. For once, the NHL's leading scorer was helpless to stop the Capitals' growing losing skid.
Injured during last week's road trip to Pittsburgh, Columbus and New York, Ovechkin sat out Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Verizon Center. His offensively challenged team, which has mustered just nine goals in its last seven games, desperately missed him.
Instead, goals from Kyle Turris in the second period and Jason Spezza in the third period proved more than enough for Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson, who stopped all 34 Caps shots en route to the win. It was his second career shutout of Washington and third of the season.
"Our effort was there tonight. We were doing the right things," Washington forward Troy Brouwer said. "We were getting pucks deep. We were getting shots to the net. I think we had  shots again tonight. Anderson made some good saves when they needed, but we gotta score goals. We're not scoring goals. I think we have two in our last three games. It's not going to win you many games in this league."
The last time the Caps lost four games in a row in regulation came early in the 2011-12 season from Nov. 25 to Dec. 1. The first two games of that streak cost then-coach Bruce Boudreau his job. Then came two more under new coach Dale Hunter.
In all Washington (22-20-8, 52 points) has now dropped six games in a row, two of those in a shootout, and have only two points during that stretch. That has dropped them all the way to 12th in the Eastern Conference and sixth in the Metropolitan Division. It was also the Caps' seventh straight loss to Ottawa.
"I know the guys are feeling like they have to play a perfect game right now," coach Adam Oates said. "And that's a difficult feeling."
Frustrations began to grow at the end of the loss on Tuesday. Mikhail Grabovski was given a 10-minute misconduct for clawing at the face of Senators center Zack Smith during a third-period scrum. It didn't help that Washington's vaunted power play was 0-for-4 and generated little against Ottawa.
That was one area where Oates thought his team really missed Ovechkin, who is out with an undisclosed lower-body injury sustained on the road trip last week to Pittsburgh, Columbus and New York. Ovechkin did not practice with his teammates on Monday at Kettler Iceplex and also missed the morning skate on Tuesday and did not participate in warm-ups before the game even while being listed as a "game-time decision" by the club. Still, no one wanted to use Ovechkin's absence as an excuse.
"[Ovechkin] is a big part of our team, but if he's not in the lineup, we can't just drag our lip around all night," forward Brooks Laich said. "Whether it's him that's missing time or Mike Green that's missing time or anybody that's out of the lineup, we push forward. That's the only way to go. Otherwise, you're using some sort of crutch or an excuse for why you didn't get something done. We don't operate like that."
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