- The Washington Times - Friday, December 2, 2011

Two shots in the third period Thursday night for the Washington Capitals in a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. None in the final five minutes of a one-goal game.

That’s not a recipe for success — and the Caps know it.

“We didn’t get enough shots again. It was a tight game again; we just didn’t get the goals,” defenseman Dennis Wideman said. “We’re not getting shots through when we get the opportunity.”

New coach Dale Hunter likes shots.

“You get more rubber at the net, the better things happen,” he said Thursday.

The problem? The Caps have been outshot 65-36 in the first two games under Hunter.

“We just weren’t getting pucks through,” defenseman John Erskine said Thursday night. “We’ve got to get pucks through and get to the net.”

Hunter said he’s more worried about scoring chances than quantity of shots, but even that has been lacking. Players talked about the need to put quality pucks on net — and then crash the net.

“I think when you get the cycle, you have to go to the net. It’s just a period of time now. Goals go in; it’s going to come,” captain Alex Ovechkin said. “It’s not going to be like we’re going to score every game one goal. It’s never going to happen to this team. When we cycle it, one guy have to go to the net. We have to get used to it.”

Either that, or get used to getting outshot night after night. But that’s not something the Caps want to think about; they’d rather figure out how to generate more chances.

“We just score one goal each game, so we’ve got to find out how to create some offense too and score some goals,” center Nicklas Backstrom said.

Schultz gets physical

Big defenseman Jeff Schultz has been maligned for not using size to his advantage by being physical enough against opponents. But Thursday night, he came out hitting like the rest of his Caps teammates, a couple times leveling guys in front.

He said that was a product of playing the rival Penguins but really seemed to enjoy the extra aggressiveness around the crease.

“I think it’s just the way the game was last night — there was a lot of loose pucks and rebounds. The best way to kind of eliminate chances is knocking guys over,” Schultz said. “If you can’t take their stick away, you try and knock them over. It was a real physical game, a playoff-type game. It was fun to be out there.”

Hamrlik has lower-body injury

Roman Hamrlik was considered a healthy scratch before Thursday’s game, but the 37-year-old defenseman was not on the ice for Friday’s practice and Hunter revealed that Hamrlik was bothered by a lower-body injury.

“He’s just day-to-day. It’s nothing serious,” Hunter said. “Just give him a day off today and we’ll see about it.”

Hunter said he wasn’t sure if Hamrlik would play Saturday night against the Ottawa Senators or even take part in the morning skate.

• Stephen Whyno can be reached at swhyno@washingtontimes.com.

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