The Washington Capitals have had two days to get over a lopsided defeat to another playoff contender and prepare to get their own postseason pursuit back on track.
The Capitals open a four-game road trip trying to avoid a fifth consecutive loss and deliver a blow to New Jersey Devils’ playoff hopes Friday night.
While it gained just two points in its previous three games, Washington (34-29-13) was at least somewhat competitive in those losses. The same couldn’t be said for Tuesday’s visit from Dallas.
The Capitals were booed often after giving up two goals in a 34-second span in the second period and another two in the final frame of a 5-0 loss. They also extended their longest losing streak since a season-high, seven-game slide Jan. 12-24, which was capped by their most recent visit to New Jersey.
"If I was a fan, I’d be booing us right now," said goaltender Braden Holtby, who subbed Jaroslav Halak after Dallas’ second goal in the second period. "A playoff race like we’re in? To lose 5-0, it’s awful. There’s no words for it."
Washington will take its postseason hunt on the road for four of its final six games and has gotten some time to get ready for that pivotal trip.
"As a group, we let a couple of mistakes affect us, and that’s the first time in a long time that we’ve done that. We have to, somehow as a group, let (Tuesday) go," coach Adam Oates said after practice Wednesday. "We’ve got six games left. We have to win one Friday."
Oates’ club carries a four-game road point streak (2-0-2) into the Prudential Center but New Jersey (32-28-16) has earned at least one point in its last five overall contests (2-0-3) and is 2-0-1 in its last three at home.
The Devils will also have a couple of days to get over another missed opportunity in a shootout, a 3-2 loss at Buffalo on Tuesday. New Jersey dropped to 0-11 in shootouts this season after a nine-round affair with the league-worst Sabres and suffered its third such loss in the last four games.
Tuomo Ruutu scored the tying power-play goal with 13:02 remaining in regulation after the Devils gave up two goals early in the final period.
"We’re playing well enough to build on leads. We don’t and we let teams hang around. Your margin of error is really small when you can’t score that second or third goal," said coach Pete DeBoer, whose team has scored two goals or fewer in six of its last nine games. "We’ve got to move on. We’ve got to get ready for Friday night."
New Jersey has won in each of its last three home games against Washington, including a 2-1 victory in the only matchup there this season Jan. 24. Cory Schneider made 30 saves and Jaromir Jagr assisted on both goals.
The Devils have also claimed two of three overall in the season series but were beaten 3-0 in the latest meeting Feb. 8. Washington scored all of its goals in the third period, including two empty-netters in the final two minutes, and Holtby made 25 saves while outdueling Schneider.
Jagr has a team-best five points (one goal, four assists) in this season’s matchups with his former club, and defenseman Marek Zidlicky has scored a team-leading two goals.
Capitals star Alex Ovechkin sat out with a lower-body injury during the visit to New Jersey in January. He has one goal and one assist in the two other games against the Devils.