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Capitals Postgame: No More No. 19; What Went Wrong Offensively?



Washington Capitals center Dylan Strome (17) tries to keep the puck away from New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) in the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Capitals’ three-game win streak has been snapped.

Thursday’s 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders was anything but pretty. Partly to blame was luck, partly to blame was execution, but ultimately there were a handful of notes to take away.

Backstrom’s Absence Was Surely Felt

The news of Nicklas Backstrom’s leave of absence from the team Wednesday was a fresh wound, one that absolutely lingered Thursday.

TJ Oshie called Backstrom’s absence “a massive hole that can’t be filled.” Head coach Spencer Carbery challenged everybody to give it a little bit more. But in whatever way the Capitals needed to respond to Backstrom’s abrupt departure, they failed to do so.

Obviously the Islanders’ quick goal — coming 22 seconds into the game — didn’t help matters. But the Capitals failed to punch back, instead watching as the Islanders climbed to a three-goal advantage.

At times, the Capitals looked lackadaisical. Passes were often anything but crisp. Plenty of opportunities were had, but none culminated in any success on the scoreboard. And because of it, the Capitals are back in the loss column.

Shots On Goal Output Perplexing

Honestly, Thursday’s result would probably be a total shock to somebody who only read the box score.

Come night’s end, the Capitals held a stout 32-21 advantage in the shots on goal battle, an output that failed to culminate in a single goal.

Meanwhile, the Islanders scored on each of the two shots they took in the first period. Brock Nelson’s second-period goal came on the team’s fifth shot of the game — making the Capitals’ offensive shortcomings feel that much worse.

Making matters worse was the fact that the Capitals had three power play opportunities throughout the course of the game, but Islanders goalie (and former Capital) Semyon Varlamov could not be beaten. He finished with 32 saves.

Oshie’s Neck Protection

Nearly a week after Adam Johnson had his throat cut on the ice in a freak accident, Capitals winger TJ Oshie donned neck protection in game action.

Oshie’s company, Warroad, is one of many suppliers of the items, and sold out of their cut-resistant base layers that cover the neck and wrists.

Oshie is one of a few around the league who are embracing the protection following Johnson’s death.

“I made my choice for my kids, I want to stick around for them,” Oshie said. “Just trying to decrease the chance of injury.”

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.