It took an entire month, but the Capitals are now staring down the barrel of their first two-game losing streak.
Third-period goals by Adam Burish, Jamie Benn and Eric Nystrom turned a close game into a rout as the Dallas Stars handed the Capitals their first home loss, a 5-2 setback in front of 18,506 fans at the Verizon Center.
The Capitals will try to put an end to their mini-losing streak they are now 2-4-0 after starting the season with seven straight victories when they begin a home-and-home series with the New Jersey Devils Friday night in Newark.
When we were winning the first seven games we were winning all those battles, Boudreau said. In the last six, were 4-6 because we were losing those battles. When you dont win the one-on-one battles youre not going to succeed.
Asked if his team might have gotten comfortable after its 7-0 start, Boudreau replied, If its a comfort thing, the comfort will change tomorrow.
The Capitals twice battled back from one-goal deficits to enter the third period locked in a 2-2 tie, but the doors fell off after that as the Stars improved their record to an NHL-best 10-3-0. The Caps fell to 9-4-0.
Burish began the onslaught 24 seconds into the period when he beat Nicklas Backstrom to the slot after Jeff Halpern won a defensive zone faceoff. Brenden Morrow made the play happen by pulling the puck off the wall and feeding Burish in front.
A tripping penalty to Alex Semin his second stick infraction of the game and team-high ninth of the season led to the Stars back-breaking power-play goal.
Benn gained entry into the offensive zone and fed the puck to Sheldon Souray, whose blast from the right point caromed off Capitals goalie Michal Neuvirth back to Benn for an uncontested slap shot into an open net.
The Stars finished off the flurry when Nystrom beat Neuvirth over his catching glove on a nice inside move on Caps defenseman John Carlson.
Caps defenseman Dennis Wideman said his team needs to revert back to the things it was doing at the start of the season when it reeled off seven straight wins.
We were constantly getting the puck in deep, he said. We constantly went after them; we were winning battles in our own zone; we were hitting forwards on good breakouts and we were winning hockey games. Right now were just not sharp enough.
Michael Ryder got things started for the Stars midway through the opening period when his second effort resulted in his first of two goals. Caps defenseman Jeff Schultz had trouble controlling the puck after winning a race into the defensive zone and Ryder took advantage, following up on a save by Neuvirth to tuck the puck past the diving goalie.
The first period also featured the good and bad sides of Semin. Early in the period he took a senseless tripping penalty against Adam Burish off a defensive zone faceoff but made up for it on a power play later in the period.
After Alex Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty on Morrow, Nicklas Backstrom found Semin in the right circle for a one-timer that cleanly beat Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen. The goal was Semins third of the season and gave the Capitals at least one power-play goal in 10 of their first 13 games.
The Stars regained the lead 93 seconds later when Ryder struck again, this time on a rising shot that was deflected in front of Neuvirth and bounced under him for a 2-1 lead with 2:44 remaining in the period.
The Caps, who won 27 of 43 faceoffs in the opening 40 minutes, scored off a draw to tie the score at 2-2. Marcus Johanasson cleanly beat Vernon Fiddler and rookie Cody Eakin quickly sent a pass back to John Carlson, who teed up his second goal in three games.