Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils Friday night at the PrudentialCenter:
How it happened: Devils LW Ryan Carter split Capitals defensemen Mike Green and Karl Alzner and ripped a wrist shot past goaltender Jaroslav Halak with 4:54 remaining in regulation for the game-winner. Carter got a step on Jay Beagle and received little resistance through the middle for his sixth goal of the season. Marcus Johansson had a chance to tie with just over 2 minutes remaining but Devils goalie Cory Schneider shut the door from the goal mouth. The two teams traded goals in the first two periods, with Alex Ovechkin scoring at even strength in the first and Tuomo Ruutu redirecting a point shot by Eric Gelinas in the second.
What it means: With the loss, the Capitals’ losing streak reached five games [0-3-2], dropping them from 10th to 11th place in the Eastern Conference standings, behind the Devils, Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets, who lost 4-3 in regulation to the Blackhawks. The Capitals still trail the Blue Jackets by four points with each team with five games remaining.
Welcome back, Ovi: Ovechkin’s first-period goal was his first even-strength tally since Feb. 27 against the Florida Panthers, snapping a drought of 16 games, the longest of his NHL career. His plus-2 also marked his first time as a plus player since the game before the Sochi Olympics on Feb. 8 against the Devils when he was a plus-2. Ovechkin’s first-period goal came seconds after his shot attempt was snuffed out by a diving Patrick Elias. The puck slid to Mikhail Grabovski, who returned the puck to Ovi for the one-timer.
Elias knocked out: Caps rookie Tom Wilson knocked Elias out of the game with 8:13 remaining in the first period when he railed him over the bench and into the turnbuckle beside the visitors’ bench. Elias, the Devils’ second leading scorer with 51 points, did not return.
Icy hot: One of Adam Oates’ biggest pet peeves is when his team ices the puck. It happened midway through the second period when rookie Julien Brouillette, at the end of a shift, caught the puck out of the air and banked a clear off the boards and down the ice. That forced Oates to burn a timeout, and even though Jay Beagle won the faceoff, the Caps got hemmed inside their own zone and never got out, ending with Ruutu’s deflection goal.
Moves like Jagr: Former Caps RW Jaromir Jagr came into the game leading the Devils with 64 points and is one point away from becoming the oldest player in NHL history [42 years, 1 month] to record 65 points.
Looking ahead: The Capitals will bus it up the Long Island Expressway for Saturday’s 5 p.m. puck drop against the New York Islanders in Uniondale, N.Y. The Isles are 14th in the Eastern Conference stabdings but have won three straight and are 7-2-1 in their last 10.