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4-2 home loss to Jets leaves Oates, Capitals 0-2


4-2 home loss to Jets leaves Oates, Capitals 0-2

WASHINGTON (AP) Two games, two losses for Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals and first-time NHL head coach Adam Oates.

Winnipeg's Evander Kane and Blake Wheeler each provided a goal and an assist Tuesday night, and the Jets suddenly transformed into an offensive juggernaut, beating the Capitals 4-2 to drop Washington to 0-2 for the first time since 1996.

``At this stage of the year, there's a little confidence issue,'' Oates said. ``We're all second-guessing each other a little bit.''

The Capitals lost their home opener for the first time since 2000, ending a 10-game streak and drawing occasional boos from the red-clad crowd. There's plenty to complain about: The team has been outscored 10-5; opponents are 5 for 12 on power plays; two-time league MVP Ovechkin doesn't have a goal.

``When there was a mistake, it was a big mistake,'' said Washington's Troy Brouwer, who scored a power-play goal with 76 seconds left. ``The grace period is over.''

Not the best way to get started in a lockout-shortened season, where any losing streak's significance is magnified. The quick training camp and lack of preseason games didn't give Oates much time to implement his systems.

``You feel for their situation,'' Jets coach Claude Noel said. ``It's a really tough transition where you don't have a long camp, you don't have exhibition games, which is a huge difference. You can't assess your team correctly. You're doing it on the fly.''

Andrew Ladd and Jim Slater also scored, and Tobias Enstrom had three assists for Winnipeg (1-1-1), which outshot the Capitals 39-34.

The Jets scored only two goals in their first 137 1/2 minutes of play this season. They matched that total with a pair of power-play scores in a 4-minute span during the first period Tuesday while building a 4-1 lead.

``If you play a simple game and everyone buys into it, you can have success,'' said Wheeler, who was on a new line with Kane and Olli Jokinen.

Washington scored first, on Matt Hendricks' goal about 10 minutes into the game, but that lead didn't stand long. Winnipeg tied it about 2 1/2 minutes later when Kane's attempt to center the puck wound up in the net behind goalie Braden Holtby. The puck went in after striking the boot of Capitals defenseman John Carlson at the 12 1/2-minute mark.

Then, with Carlson in the penalty box for delay of game, the Jets went ahead 2-1. This time, with Ovechkin and center Nicklas Backstrom on the penalty-kill, Winnipeg captain Ladd took a one-timer from between the circles that clanged in off the right post with 8 seconds remaining on the advantage.

The Capitals' second game of the season was only 16 1/2 minutes old, yet they already had allowed goals on five of their opponents' first nine power plays. Washington lost at Tampa Bay 6-3 on Saturday.

``Right now, we just have to realize, we have to win a game,'' Ovechkin said. ``We know what we have to do.''

Notes: Winnipeg is the first visitor to beat Washington in a home opener since the Los Angeles Kings won 4-1 on Oct. 6, 2000. Oates assisted on Washington's goal in that game. ... Washington's Hendricks fought Slater at the end of the second period, then Chris Thorburn with 5 1/2 minutes remaining in the third. ... Capitals C Mike Ribeiro, who was bleeding from the cheek in the first period and got a bandage on the cut, was given a 10-minute misconduct and 2-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty with less than 1 1/2 minutes left in the game. He said he used salty language while trying for a second time to get an explanation from an official why high-sticking wasn't called either of two times he got hit high. ... Capitals D Mike Green played in his 400th career game. ... Ovechkin's 70 points against the Jets franchise - 34 goals and 36 assists in 49 games against Atlanta and Winnipeg - are his most against any NHL club. ... Video messages from more than a half-dozen Capitals players, many thanking the fans, were shown on the scoreboard before the opening faceoff.

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Pittsburgh Zoo takes shot at the Capitals with Halloween decorations

Pittsburgh Zoo takes shot at the Capitals with Halloween decorations

It's almost Halloween and the penguins are getting into the spirit. No, not the Pittsburgh Penguins, but actual penguins from Pittsburgh and they're taking shots at the Washington Capitals.

The Pittsburgh Zoo decorated its penguin exhibit for Halloween complete with tombstones. Go ahead and take a look at who is on those tombstones.

The Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks for the Stanley Cup last season and they just plain don't like the Caps and Flyers.

RELATED: Containing McDavid is the Caps' challenge Wednesday

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Containing Connor McDavid is the Capitals' central challenge Wednesday

Containing Connor McDavid is the Capitals' central challenge Wednesday

The Capitals have only faced Connor McDavid once, but they know all about his flashy game. After all, how could anyone be unfamiliar with the Oilers’ star, given his ever growing collection of highlight reel goals and set-up passes?

“Unpredictable,” said Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen, who figures to match up against McDavid quite a bit when Washington visits the brand new Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday night.

“Just from watching him on TV, you can tell the extra gear that he has,” Niskanen continued. “He can change speeds. He can move laterally and he can handle the puck at a high speed and in tight spaces. That makes him really dangerous. Young kids nowadays, they got the guts to try things. They’ll try a one-on-one, try to make a play in tight spaces, where it hasn’t been coached out of them yet. They’re a little unpredictable. That makes it challenging.”

Through the first two weeks this season, McDavid and the Oilers have been the talk of the league. In fact, Edmonton’s newly-minted captain—the youngest in league history at 19—enters Tuesday night’s games tied for the league lead in points with nine (four goals and five assists) while the upstart Oilers own the second best record in the NHL.

RELATED: Trotz wants Caps to embrace mentality of 'playing fast'

When the Capitals visited Edmonton a year ago, McDavid recorded a goal and an assist in a 7-4 Washington win. He was sidelined by injury when the teams reconvened in November.

On Wednesday night, the Capitals are expecting to see a more confident and comfortable playmaker.  

“He’s able to do things with the puck at a very high speed that a lot of guys can’t do,” T.J. Oshie said.

Asked how to best stop McDavid, the Capitals were in agreement: don’t allow him to carry the puck into the offensive zone with speed and space.

“We’re going to have to limit his time and space and hopefully make him feel like he’s a little crowded out there,” Oshie said.

Said Lars Eller: “You want to get on him early. You don’t want to give him that room in the neutral zone because once he gets up to speed he’s hard to stop. You want to stop him early.”

“The more we have the puck, the better,” Eller added. “The best defense is to keep the puck away from him.”     

Andre Burakovsky played alongside McDavid when the two were teammates on the Erie Otters in 2013-14, so he’s well-versed on his game.  

“It’s always tough to know what he’s going to do,” Burakovsky said. “He’s so fast. He likes to just skate around you with the puck. Our D needs to have a really good gap on him. If not, he’s going to have a really big chance to just get around them. So our gap control is going to be the key for us.”

McDavid centers Edmonton’s top line, which includes Milan Lucic on the left and Jordan Eberle on the right. Eberle also ranks among the league leaders in points, with three goals and three assists, while Lucic has two goals and two helpers. That's a whopping 19 points between them.  

The Oilers, meantime, are tied for the league lead in goals per game this season (3.83) and are getting offensive contributions from throughout the lineup. But the McDavid line does the majority of the damage, obviously. Shut them down and the Caps' odds of escaping with two points will increase exponentially.  

“You got two really skilled guys and Lucic is that up-and-down winger, straight lines,” Niskanen said. “He probably creates some space for [McDavid and Eberle] by driving the net and being around the net front. There’s a combination of skills on that line.”

“It’ll be interesting to see how they do this year,” Niskanen added. “I think they have all the talent to be a much better team than they have been recently, with McDavid leading the way. It’s going to be a good challenge for us. It’s for sure going to be a different Oilers' team than it’s been the last couple of years.”

MORE CAPITALS: Trotz sees value in an early season road trip