The Washington Capitals continued to struggle early on in the shortened 2013 season. Washington dropped its second straight game and fifth of the year with a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Caps took a 2-1 lead into the third period, but were unable to hold the lead by giving up two goals within two minutes midway through the frame.
They started the game quickly, with Joel Ward scoring his fourth goal of the year at 1:36 of the first period on assists from Mike Ribeiro and Jason Chimera. Toronto answered with a power-play goal by James van Riemsdyk on assists from Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak. The man advantage was the result of a double minor charged to Chimera.
After Alex Ovechkin connected on a power play to start the second period, the Capitals seemed to be in the driver's seat with 2-1 lead at the second intermission.
Toronto had other plans, scoring unanswered third-period goals by Nikolai Kulemin and Matt Frattin.
Washington's trend of allowing its goalies to be bombarded by pucks continued on Thursday. The Caps were outshot 40-22, including 16-9 in the final period. Goalie Michal Neuvirth once again looked good, but was at the mercy of a porous defense and numerous penalties. He made 37 saves in the losing effort.
Penalties have been a problem all season. In Thursday's game, the Maple Leafs had eight power-play opportunities. Though the Caps' penalty kill only allowed one goal, the amount of time spent skating a man down has to be concerning.
Head coach Adam Oates has thus far been unsuccessful in his goal of making the Capitals a strong offensive team again; the Caps rank 23rd in the NHL in goals scored. Washington is on its third coach in two years and is clearly having a hard time adjusting to the new style.
Mike Ribeiro, who was acquired in the offseason, continued to be a bright spot for the Caps. The veteran center logged over 17 minutes and recorded two assists with a plus-one rating.
After earning a measly three points in seven games, the Capitals need to turn things around in a hurry. The upcoming schedule won' t make it easy. Starting with the Flyers on Friday night, the Caps also play host to the Penguins and Maple Leafs in the next three games.