WASHINGTON — The Minnesota Wild visit the Washington Capitals Saturday night looking for their fourth straight win.
The Capitals are just looking for answers.
The reigning Presidents’ Trophy winners limped home from a two-game road trip that saw them lose by scores of 6-3 in Nashville and 6-2 in Colorado. Washington (10-9-1) fell behind 2-0 in both games, one with goaltender Braden Holtby starting and once with his capable backup, Philipp Grubauer, between the pipes.
Washington fell to 5-9 when allowing the first goal of the game, and Thursday’s loss was followed by a team meeting.
“There’s not enough urgency. It can spiral,” Tom Wilson told the team website. “You come out, they get a couple of goals. Guys are kind of maybe trying to cheat a little bit on the offensive end and then another puck goes in your net.
“It’s not about x’s and o’s right now. There’s no continuous momentum from line to line.”
With the losses they incurred in the offseason, the Capitals knew they wouldn’t be as high-powered on offense this season, and would have to play a tighter games. That said, they’re missing forward Andre Burakovsky (thumb surgery) and Nicklas Backstrom (13 games without a goal) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (one goal in his last nine) are slumping.
Against the Avalanche, Kuznetsov and Brett Connolly scored and Grubauer had 22 saves.
“Obviously it’s a good thing it’s game 20 and not game 50. But, again, we’re a quarter of the way through and we’re not where we want to be,” Brett Connolly told the team’s website. “We seem to figure it out quickly here. We’ve got the guys in the locker room to do it so it’s up to the guys in here to turn it on.”
The Wild also fell behind in their last game, against the Predators, but with a different outcome. The Wild rallied from two goals down with four goals in the final seven minutes in a 6-4 win.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk didn’t get his fourth straight shutout, in fact he allowed a goal 49 seconds into the game — but the relentless Wild offense late in the game made it so he didn’t see a shot on goal over the final 15 minutes.
“I was just standing there and watching the guys go to work,” Dubnyk told the Minneapolis Tribune. “I’ve seen it many times, and it’s always impressive.”
The Wild trailed 4-2 with seven minutes to play before Ryan Suter and Eric Staal scored to tie the game, and Jason Zucker scored the go-ahead goal.
“It shows great character to be able to come back and all of a sudden do that, it makes people believe, or the team I think believe that they’re capable of doing it,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Dallas has defeated Montreal, Philadelphia (twice) and Nashville to improve to 10-6-2.
Dubnyk, who saw his shutout streak ended at 195 minutes, 54 seconds, has struggled against Washington, posting a 2-4-1 mark with a 3.61 goals against average and a .879 save percentage.
Meawhile, Holtby has thrived against Minnesota (7-2, 2.43, .917).
Staal has 29 goals and 44 assists in 74 games against Washington. Alex Ovechkin, without a goal in his last four games overall, is 14 and six in 12 games against Minnesota.
Zucker has eight goals in his last five games overall.
Washington has won four in a row at Capital One Arena.
“We’re gonna get back home, lick our wounds and see if we can take on the Wild and bring a much better effort,” Trotz said after Thursday’s loss.