THE RESULT: For the second time in a week, 41-year old goalie Dwayne Roloson shut out the Washington Capitals, leading his Tampa Bay Lightning to a 3-0 win, securing first place in the Southeast Division for the time being.
The loss is the fifth time the Caps have been shut out in their last 25 games.
Domonic Moore, Sean Bergenheim and Simon Gagne scored for the Lightning, who own the top spot in the division by two points over the Caps, and sit second in the Eastern Conference trailing Philadelphia by just two points.
It was Washington's first regulation loss in ten games.
The Capitals were simply outplayed all evening. Continuing a theme we've noticed for a while, Tampa took the body early and often against the Caps and Washington just didn't respond until things were already well out of hand.
It was the second straight game the Caps got down 3-0, but unlike Tuesday's game in Florida where they stormed back to force overtime and earn a standings point, Alex Ovechkin and the rest of the Caps couldn't muster enough energy for a comeback.
The Caps took just 23 shots on goal against Roloson, making his second appearance against the Caps since being traded to Tampa by the cellar-dwelling Islanders. Roloson was rarely tested though, as most of the Caps shots against came from outside the circles, and the Caps managed just 12 shots on goal during five-on-five play.
Washington's forwards were content to fling shots from the perimeter, but unwilling or unable to find the requisite determination to crash the net looking for rebounds.
Playing on back-to-back nights on the road in the NHL is tough. But no one wants to hear excuses. The Caps did not come out to play last night and it showed, on the ice and on the scoresheet.
Veteran forward Mike Knuble tried to put it into perspective after the game. “It took a lot of energy [Tuesday] night to catch up and if you keep asking your team to do that all the time, it’s tough. Coming in back-to-back, you’ve got to get the lead. It’s pretty important because we chased so hard [Tuesday] night to scrape out a point.”
But despite the lackluster performance, it was just the first regulation loss in 10 games, and the Caps still own the league's seventh-nest record overall.
Are there problems? Sure. The power play went 0-for-2 last night and is as anemic as it has ever been, going 8-for-75 (10.7%) with the extra man in its last 20 games. The penalty kill is still working well, but the Caps are taking entirely too many penalties, especially in the offensive and neutral zones.
And the Caps two best players, Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom, are having historically bad runs right now.
As bas as all that is, the Caps are still seventh overall in the league. I'm sure there are a dozen teams that would LOVE to trade places, problems and all.
It's only Jan. 13. There's plenty of time to get things sorted out. They've already weathered an eight-game losing streak, rebounding with a 6-1-3 stretch.
It's not time to panic. Yet.
THE GOOD: John Carlson. No goals allowed. Led the team with five shots. Caps killed all five extra-man opportunities for Tampa.
THE BAD: Jeff Schultz. The Bolts scored three goals. He was on the ice for all three. Schultz looked lost last night.
Dishonorable Mention: Tom Poti. Scratched from the Florida game, he returned to play just 5:38 and didn't take a shift after the first period. He was already minus-2 when he left. If you're a puck-moving defenseman and you can't move, you're a liability. He should be shut down.
THE UGLY: I'm still wondering how Scott Downie only got two minutes for punching Scott Hannan in the face twice while another player was holding Hannan down -- and Hannan got four for roughing. Miscarriage of justice.
THE STATS: No goals.
NEXT GAME: Friday night against Vancouver Canucks at 7:00 pm at Verizon Center. Vancouver current owners of NHL's best record (28-8-6).
CAPS NEWS NETWORK THREE STARS
3. Scott Hannan. No goals allowed, and his original check on Downie was a thing of beauty.
2. Semyon Varlamov. 35 saves on 38 shots. Left to his own defense much of the night.
1. John Carlson. No goals and five shots for. Turning into a real leader on the blue line.