Caps know they must clean up mistakes, attack more offensively

Caps know they must clean up mistakes, attack more offensively originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

For the first part of Saturday’s loss against the Rangers, the Capitals appeared in control defensively. Then, two penalties in the first period led to a Rangers goal, and Washington was stuck in neutral the rest of the day.

In a 4-1 loss, the defense was mistake-prone at inopportune times and the offense couldn’t get going enough to mount any sort of comeback in yet another afternoon defeat. They’ve got a quick turnaround before Sunday afternoon’s game against the Devils.

“Probably from the beginning, we seemed to turn the puck over, myself included a lot,” defenseman John Carlson said. “Whether we were making the wrong plays or whether trying to make the right plays we just didn’t execute well enough. That just seemed like what was happening with us all night.”

The Capitals out-shot and out-attempted the Rangers, but went 0-for-4 on the powerplay and committed five penalties. And in a low-event game like Saturday was, their mistakes were ever amplified.

“Penalties are never good,” Carlson said. “Our PK stood in well this year with that said. But it felt like we were kinda starting to tone things down and that was really a big focus for our team after the first 8 or 9 games or so. I would have to look at every single little thing that happened but that’s what it felt like. I don’t think we had a great defensive game at all. I think even in the first period, maybe their chances were lower and good in a sense. But I didn’t feel like it was a great defensive period.”

Still, as the Capitals trailed 1-0 for more than 20 minutes of game time before two Rangers goals in a minute put the game out of reach for a Washington offense that never sustained enough significant pressure to force goaltender Igor Shesterkin into a mistake.

Goalie Vitek Vanecek, who made his 13th straight start, allowed three goals, two of which came on rebound attempts in front. Dmitry Orlov tallied his first point late in the second period, but the offense didn’t muster any goals in the third.

“I thought Vitek was good,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “I don’t think that goaltending was the problem tonight, we didn’t generate enough. It was a 3-1 game, it was a 1-0 game until late in the second period when we made a couple of mistakes. Vitek gives us a chance to win hockey games so I thought he was good. We needed to be in the offensive zone a little bit more.”

Their defense, sans a poor second period, wasn’t bad enough to cost them the game. Paired with the offensive performance, though, it was.

“We just couldn’t generate,” Laviolette said. “We needed to have more gas again. We looked a step behind them. They looked quicker to me.”

When asked if the constant nature of so many games and practices was to blame for the lack of attack, Laviolette brushed off any excuses.

“There’s days off built in the schedule,” Laviolette answered. “You see the amount of times that we’re not on the ice. I don’t believe that it’s coming from practice days, I believe it’s the schedule. But there’s no excuses for us either. We had time off because of the cancellation of games. We can’t make any excuses. We’ve got to have a little bit more juice in our legs. That was the story today.”

Tune in to NBC Sports Washington at 1 p.m. on Sunday for full coverage of the Capitals’ next game against the New Jersey Devils.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner, NBC Sports Washington. Sign up for NBC Sports Washington’s free email subscription today.

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