- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 13, 2005

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — It was, all things considered, a better performance yesterday by the Washington Capitals than Friday’s loss at MCI Center.

Still, there are a few things the Caps need to work on. Namely, when they have the puck on the power play, the idea is to put the puck in the opponent’s net. And when they are killing a penalty, the idea is to keep the puck out of your net.

The Caps yesterday could not grasp those simple concepts and as a result the New Jersey Devils won their second straight against Washington, this time 3-2. All three New Jersey goals were on the power play, while the Caps were scoreless in their five attempts.

“The whole thing comes down to special teams again,” said an obviously disappointed and unhappy coach Glen Hanlon. “Five-on-five, we’re there, I have no trouble. But [special teams], both games it has been the difference.”

Washington lost 4-3 on Friday, failing to score once in three tries while allowing the Devils a power-play score. In the two-game series, New Jersey connected four times, the Caps none.

Hanlon seemed more concerned with the failure of the power play than the failure of the penalty-killing. He indicated that after he reflects on the matter, he might make major changes in the makeup of those units but other than shuffling personnel, there is only so much he can do with a 20-man roster.

“You always want to make sure you’re doing the right thing [in making] corrections,” he said. “Sometimes patience is the best and you have to make a very calculated decision on when it’s time to blow up the bridge and totally retool. What I’ve learned is you don’t make those commitments three minutes after a loss. So if we do it, you’ll likely see it in the next week.”

The tone was set 12:38 into a scoreless first period in which the Caps had been playing well. Jamie Heward took a hooking penalty and that triggered an avalanche. Washington was short-handed for the next 6:09 and short-handed two men three different times for a total of 42 seconds. The Devils scored on one of the two-man advantages.

“We were playing real well but ran into some trouble in the first period and that gave them momentum,” Heward said. “We just made a couple mental mistakes and took penalties back-to-back-to-back-to-back and it hurt us. They got three, we didn’t get any and that’s the bottom line.”

The Caps’ power play on the road fell to a dismal 6.5 percent. The league average is 16.6 percent.

And it is very difficult to score by any means if you don’t shoot. Yesterday the Caps took their 20th and final shot of the game with just more than a minute elapsed in the third period, failing to register a shot on Martin Brodeur for nearly 19 minutes.

There were pluses. Washington fell behind 2-0 in the second period but Matt Bradley scored his fourth goal and Brian Sutherby scored his first within three minutes to tie the game. But Grant Marshall scored his second in as many days, on a power play, and that was the winner for New Jersey.

The second plus was goalie Brent Johnson, who came into the game with a 0-2 record and a 6.34 goals-against average. He turned in a respectable performance but might have stopped one of the three he allowed had he closed his pads completely after making a partial stop. He was just plain unlucky on a second.

Notes — Center Andrew Cassels, for the fifth consecutive game, and defenseman Mathieu Biron were the healthy scratches. … Olie Kolzig (hamstring) and Jeff Friesen (groin) were among the medical scratches. … Brian Willsie (four games), Jeff Halpern (three) and Alex Ovechkin (three) had goals or point streaks snapped in the loss. … The Caps are off today.

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