Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz talked about a need for change after watching his team blow a two-goal lead against the Arizona Coyotes earlier this month. They still have a ways to go if their last two games are any indication.
Washington tries to avoid a third consecutive loss and fourth in a row at Arizona as these team close their season series Tuesday night.
The Capitals (7-7-3) will surely be out for revenge after falling 6-5 to the Coyotes on Nov. 2. Alex Ovechkin had a goal and three assists for Washington, which took a 3-1 lead into the second period before giving up the next five goals.
"Behavior has to change," Trotz said afterward. "Sometimes I get the feeling we want to play as hard as we just need to, and that’s not how I operate. That’s not how you win in this league."
While the Capitals went 3-0-1 in their next four games, they’re since suffered a pair of regulation defeats. Washington was shut out for the first time in Friday’s 1-0 loss to New Jersey before falling 4-1 at St. Louis the following night.
"Some of the behavior has changed, but a couple other things still remain," Trotz said. "It’s a process, we’re trying to rebuild Rome if you will, and it’s not going to happen overnight. Obviously there are always different twists and turns. I feel like we’re close, but we’re not getting over the hump right now."
Joel Ward scored his team best-tying eighth goal Saturday as the Capitals were outshot 34-25. Justin Peters stopped 30 of 34 shots and has a 4.28 goals-against average in three starts this month.
"They were just all over us," defenseman Nate Schmidt told the league’s official website. "We didn’t have a lot of speed hitting the blue line. We need to get pucks deep, and their defensemen played really well.
"We can learn a lot from this game, see a lot of things we can work on, take some things from their game. They do some things especially well; take what we learn and use it in our next couple of games."
The Coyotes (8-9-1) return home after closing a 2-1 trek with back-to-back wins, 5-0 over Vancouver on Friday and 2-1 over Edmonton on Sunday. Devan Dubnyk followed his first shutout with 33 saves against his former team, improving to 4-0-1 with a 2.13 GAA over five starts.
"He was solid," coach Dave Tippett said. "We blocked a lot of shots in front of him, but just like the other night, he was big and solid in the net and gave us another real strong game. … It was kind of an ugly road game that we’ll take the points and move on."
Dubnyk is 1-1-0 with a 4.51 GAA against the Capitals after making 32 saves Nov. 2. Teammate Mike Smith is 1-7-0 with a 4.46 GAA against Washington.
Capitals center Chris Brown was scratched against St. Louis but could play in this game after practicing with the fourth line Monday. Brown, called up from Hershey on Friday, was acquired from the Coyotes on March 4.
"Everybody wants to play against their old team at some point," Trotz said. "Those guys always have extra motivation, there’s no question. … They all want to prove their former team wrong."
Washington has scored six goals in its last three visits to the desert. Ovechkin has four goals and 12 points in nine games against the Coyotes.