Defeat leaves fans booing at Verizon Center
The boos rained down from the stands hard and fierce as the Capitals left the ice after the second period. They turned to angry grumblings as the final horn sounded.
Any hope for a decent start to the 2013 season vanished in the wake of a 4-1 drubbing by the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, and the Verizon Center crowd wasn't happy. Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov scored nearly identical power-play goals, and Brian Gionta and defenseman Josh Gorges added even-strength tallies in a dominant second period.
That was all Montreal goalie Carey Price would need. He was on his game with 30 saves on 31 Washington shots. The Caps fell to 0-3-0 for the first time since the start of the 1993-94 season. In a lockout-shortened 48-game campaign, that is a much bigger deal than normal.
"Embarrassing is almost the right term right now. Pathetic is probably a better one," forward Troy Brouwer said. "I feel bad for the fans. I'd like to finish a game with at least 50 percent of the fans still in the stands. Their reaction is completely warranted -- booing us. We haven't earned any respect. We haven't earned any of their passion, their ambition. We've got to turn something around, and we've got to do it fast."
The penalty kill has allowed seven goals in 18 short-handed chances (61.1 percent) over three games, and Washington has held an honest-to-goodness lead for just 2 minutes, 32 seconds total. It has also been outscored 14-6 so far and is already all alone in last place in the Eastern Conference. Every other conference team has at least one point. The power play is an abysmal 2-for-12 so far.
"We've got to find each other better, and obviously we need to get a better forecheck, too," center Nicklas Backstrom said. "We're just not good right now. I think it's embarrassing the way we played. We've really got to regroup and talk about this and play the way we should [Friday]."
Indeed, the Caps won't have a practice to fix things. They flew to Newark after the game to play the New Jersey Devils on Friday and have a game Sunday at home against the Buffalo Sabres.
After a scoreless first period, Montreal (2-1-0, four points) took complete control. An interference penalty on Alex Ovechkin was quickly followed by Brouwer's delay-of-game penalty. With just four seconds left on the five-on-three, Plekanec slammed home a rebound past Michal Neuvirth.
Another penalty on Matt Hendricks led to Markov also scoring on a long rebound to make it 2-0. Gionta took advantage of a defensive breakdown by defensemen John Carlson and Karl Alzner and was left alone in front of the net before chipping a pass past Neuvirth (18 saves, 22 shots). The goalie would have liked to have done better on a low, glove-side point shot by Gorges at 18:21 of the second period that put the game away.
"I felt good in the first," Neuvirth said. "I thought I made big, key saves. But a tough start in the second period, give up early two goals. That second period was just a nightmare."