- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 8, 2015

Barry Trotz let out a long, pronounced sigh as he strolled six feet through the threshold of the interview room at Verizon Center and gripped both sides of the faux-wood lectern. The Washington Capitals had an opportunity to make a statement on Sunday afternoon — a win would have put them, potentially, in position to move atop the Metropolitan Division standings — and instead did something completely different.

“It was un-Capital-like tonight, if you will, with the way we’ve been going for a good portion of the season here,” Trotz said, the disappointment dripping off every syllable. “That was a good example of how not to play.”

Washington lost, 3-1, to the Philadelphia Flyers, snapping a three-game win streak as they prepare for a four-game road trip and a jaunt to the West Coast. They managed a paltry 14 shots on goal — their fewest since March 18, 2011, when they had just 12 — and went a woeful 1-for-6 on the power play, twice neutering their greatest strength by failing to even take a shot.

Mark Streit, Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek all scored for the Flyers (23-22-8), who had won four consecutive games before losing to the New York Islanders in a shootout on Thursday.

Alex Ovechkin had the Capitals‘ lone goal — a power-play tally 13:29 into the second period that served as the only highlight of the unit’s performance. At 23.4 percent, they entered with the third-best scoring percentage with the man advantage, but were foiled by the league’s third-worst penalty kill and, in the eight games since the all-star break, are just 4-for-25.

“It’s not good enough,” said Ovechkin, who now has 33 goals on the season, 15 with the man advantage. “Power play was terrible today. All five guys didn’t get any opportunities — myself, you know, missed the shots and the stick. It’s tough.”

The Capitals (28-16-10) couldn’t even capitalize upon an injury sustained by Flyers goaltender Steve Mason, who needed to be helped off the ice 11:18 into the second period. He turned away all eight shots he faced on Sunday; his replacement, Ray Emery, allowed Ovechkin’s goal, but stopped five others and wasn’t even tested at even strength until nearly 14 minutes had elapsed.

Philadelphia held Washington without a shot on goal for the first 11:57, until Nicklas Backstrom’s backhander was turned away. They attempted five shots on goal in each of the first two periods and missed the net on 21 occasions.

“It just didn’t feel like we were in there enough today,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “They played a pretty good game, and we didn’t have enough to match it. It was probably a combination of things. We put a few at the net. We just didn’t get them on the net.”

Streit scored Philadelphia’s first goal 58 seconds into the second period when his slap shot from the right point knuckled past the stick of Brayden Schenn, past Braden Holtby and into the net. The goal was originally credited to Schenn, considering the unnatural path of the puck, before being changed.

Ovechkin’s power-play goal tied the score at 1-1 when he sliced the one-timer from Evgeny Kuznetsov, who now has eight points in his last eight games, past Emery. The goal came just seconds after the expiration of a 5-on-3 opportunity for the Capitals, who had the two-man advantage for 1:20.

Sean Couturier pounced on a puck in the neutral zone just under four minutes into the third period, deftly passing it to center ice where Simmonds caught Alzner flat-footed and raced toward the net. And Voracek, who entered the game tied for first in the league in points, picked up his 18th goal of the season with an empty-netter on the power play with 36.7 seconds remaining, with Tom Wilson in the box and charged with a double minor after an emphatic hit.

Following victories over the Los Angeles Kings, the Ottawa Senators and the Anaheim Ducks, the Capitals had pieced together their sixth three-game win streak of the season. They’ve failed, however, to push any of those streaks to four games — a product, Trotz said more than anything, of playing three games in four nights.

And, while the Flyers last played on Thursday, the Capitals had played eight times in 13 days, leaving them unable to practice since Jan. 30. They’ll do so on Monday, then will hit the road Tuesday for a road trip that will take them to San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim before wrapping up in Pittsburgh.

“You definitely want to forget about it to a point, but every situation, you want to make sure it doesn’t happen again if it’s a negative way,” said Holtby, who had 22 saves. “There was no finger-pointing tonight. I think it was all of us that just didn’t seem to have it, and that can’t happen if you want to be the team we want to be.”


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