Oates: "All in all I thought the game was OK"
The Capitals are off to a 1-3-0 start and needed a shootout to gain the two points they have.
Alex Ovechkin has scored at least one goal in each of those games, the first time he’s done that in his career.
So how does Adam Oates react to another slow start to a season? If you recall, the Caps started last season with a dreadful 2-8-1 record.
“I don’t think it’s time to push the panic button yet,” Oates said following the Caps’ 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first of five games between the new Metropolitan Division rivals.
The Caps received goals from Ovechkin and Jason Chimera, but saw the Hurricanes battle back both times to tie, setting the stage for Nathan Gerbe’s game-winning goal 6:59 onto the third period.
It was an ugly one that came after John Carlson inadvertently turned a Justin Faulk rebound into a second opportunity for the Hurricanes.
“Tough break on the winning goal,” Oates said. “Our execution wasn’t good on that.
“[Braden Holtby] made the save and the rebound was in a really difficult position. I think [Carlson] just tried to shovel it back to Holts. It’s one of those things where the puck trickled to [Gerbe’s] forehand and trickled through [Holtby’s] pads.”
The Capitals’ vaunted power play was held silent for the first time this season, going 0-for-5 against Kirk Muller’s penalty killers.
“Everybody knows we have one of the best power plays in the league,” said Ovechkin, who extended his scoring streak to four games with his fifth goal of the season. “But we have to use it. Tonight we did the little things that cost us the game.”
Muller said his aggressive penalty killers disrupted the Capitals, who entered the game with a league-high six goals on 12 power plays
“Our guys really seemed to be in synch,” Muller said. “They were in the right lanes at the right times. We didn’t see that look that [Washington] has. They’re so potent and they didn’t really have the chance to set it up a lot.”
The Caps found a way to score a pair of 5-on-5 goals and Ovechkin’s fifth of the season came on a rare deflection as he cruised into the slot to redirect Steve Oleksy’s shot past Carolina backup Anton Khudobin.
The Hurricanes scored on one of their five power-plays, cashing in on back-to-back penalties by Joel Ward [closing his hand on the puck] and John Erskine [interference].
Overall, the Caps were outshot 36-32 and through four games the Caps have zero goals from Troy Brouwer, Brooks Laich, Marcus Johansson, Mike Green and John Carlson.
Like last season, Oates is preaching patience, not panic.
“Once you get rid o that zero, everyone can breath,” Oates said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get rid of it.”
Despite the slow start, Oates seems far less concerned than he was last season, when a rash of penalties and poor goaltending led to the Caps’ slow start.
“I think we can be 4-0 and I think we can be 0-4,” Oates said. “Calgary was our worst game and we won it.”
Newsy notes: Ovechkin has seven points (5g, 2a) through four games this season, marking the most points he has earned in the first four games of a season since 2010-11 [7 points]. Ovechkin led all skaters with eight shots on goal. …Nicklas Backstrom [40 points] and John Carlson [12 points] have recorded more career points against the Hurricanes than any other NHL team. … Steve Oleksy, Jason Chimera, Eric Fehr and Carlson each recorded their first point of the season. … Tom Wilson and Troy Brouwer led the Capitals with four hits each. … Carlson led the Capitals in ice time with 24:18 and registered four shots on goal and three hits. D Alexander Urbom made his Washington debut, registering three shots in 16:12 of ice time.