Out of the myriad of problems plaguing the New Jersey Devils, the second period continues to submarine their efforts.
The Washington Capitals tallied three times in the middle period to defeat the Devils, 5-1, tonight at the Verizon Center.
The Devils began the second period outworking the Capitals, earning two consecutive powerplay opportunities. New Jersey cashed in on the second man-advantage chance, tying the game, 1-1. With Matt Bradley in the box for hooking, Jamie Langenbrunner controlled the puck in the slot. He tapped a pass to Patrik Elias, and the left-winger ripped a shot past Capitals goalie Michael Neuvirth for his seventh goal of the season.
But the wheels fell off as the Capitals third and fourth line players took control of the game.
Fourth-liner Jay Beagle scored the game-winning goal at the 10 minute mark of the second period. David Steckel skated the puck from the side boards below the goal line. He sent a pass to Beagle, who one-timed the puck from the front of the crease past Martin Brodeur for his first goal of the season.
Third-liner Jason Chimera extended the Capitals lead to 3-1 at 12:39 of the period. Chimera beat Devils' defenseman Mark Fayne to a loose puck in the neutral zone, creating a short breakaway. With Fayne hooking him, Chimera dipped his shoulder and chipped a puck past Brodeur's glove for his fifth goal of the season.
New Jersey native John Carlson pushed the lead to 4-1 at 16:31 of the period. Alexander Ovechkin carried the puck into the slot, but lost the puck on a pokecheck. Carlson reached the loose puck first and fired it past Brodeur for his fourth goal of the season.
The second period struggles are nothing new to the Devils. Opponents have outscored them, 40-26, during the middle period this season. New Jersey hasn't overcome the second period struggles, carrying a 1-20-0 record when trailing after two periods.
Devils coach John MacLean expressed frustration over the team's second period play.
"I wish I could my finger on it. We do a lot of good things and then we throw a puck away," MacLean said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. "We don’t cover up for a pinch. We have five guys around one guy and the one guy that can score scores."
Mike Knuble continued the Capitals goal streak, putting Washington ahead 5-1 at 12:01 of the third period. Tom Poti fired a shot on net that Knuble tipped past Brodeur for his seventh goal of the season.
The loss pushed the Devils road losing streak to nine games. It's the third longest streak in franchise history. MacLean expressed frustration after the loss.
"It’s not getting better. It’s frustrating," MacLean said to Gulitti. "We had some opportunities. We did work hard, but we made the same mistakes against a team that capitalizes on mistakes."
Langenbrunner echoed the same frustrations.
"For whatever reason, it’s not clicking in on how we need to play and the effort we need to put in to play it," the Devils' captain told Gulitti. "We’re looking for an easier way to win hockey games and there’s no such thing in this league."
The Devils return home Thursday to open a four-game homestand against the New York Islanders, looking to avoid yet another second period meltdowns. New Jersey sits 18 points out a playoff spot and continues to lose points because of their second period play. A few more blown games, and the team can kiss its consecutive playoff streak goodbye.
Andrew Gordon scored his first career NHL goal with 3:19 remaining in the first period. That goal put the Capitals ahead, 1-0...The Devils have scored 13 goals in the past eight games, with 10 coming on the powerplay...David Clarkson led all Devils in shots tonight with six..Tonight was Carlson's second multi-point game in the NHL. His first? October 9 against the Devils...Ilya Kovalchuk had his point streak broken at seven games.