- - Friday, February 14, 2014

Martin Erat has only one goal for the Washington Capitals this season, and that came on an empty net.

Through two games at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Erat already has scored against a goaltender. He beat Latvia’s Kristers Gudlevskis in the Czech Republic’s 4-2 victory Friday.

Erat, whose struggles have included being relegated to the fourth line and the press box as a healthy scratch, hopes he’ll be able to carry this scoring touch back to Washington.

“I’m just trying to think of the second half of the season as a new season,” Erat said. “Whatever happened, happened in the first half and I have to try and put it behind me. I just want to focus on new things.”

Erat has 21 assists for the Caps this season, tied for fourth on the team, so it hasn’t been all bad.

And this Olympic tournament hasn’t been all good for Erat. He struggled in the Czechs’ opener against Sweden, and it was a delayed penalty on him that led to a goal.

The 32-year-old winger considers discipline a problem for his whole team.

“The penalties are still killing us,” Erat said. “We’re taking too many penalties. They’re getting momentum from that. It’s hard to play when you take so many penalties, especially on the big ice when you spend two minutes in the zone and just chasing the puck.”

That’s just part of a progression for the Czech Republic, which finishes group play against Switzerland on Saturday.

“It is just the group stage,” Erat said. “If you’re going to play better every game, then that’s how it’s going to go. You want to get better from every game and get ready for those big games.”

Every team advances to play a fourth game. The top four teams get byes into the quarterfinals, while the rest play for spots there.

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