NEWARK, N.J. -- Bruce Boudreau's third anniversary behind the Washington Capitals' bench did not include a celebration, but instead some head scratching moments.
Boudreau, who took over as Washington's coach on Nov. 22, 2007, left Prudential Center after New Jersey's 5-0 victory over his club Monday night wondering what's gone wrong over the last three games and promising to send a message in practice Tuesday.
"We'll make it up for it tomorrow," Boudreau said after the Caps lost by a 5-0 margin for the second time in the last three games.
Counting this past Saturday's wild 5-4 shootout loss to Philadelphia, Washington has dropped three in a row and has been outscored 14-4 in the process. Capitals goalie Braden Holtby, a surprise starter Monday, has allowed eight goals on 28 shots over his last two outings, but Boudreau couldn't put all the blame on him or the defense that hung him out to dry a few times.
"Everything has a trickle down effect from the forwards to the defense to the goalie to the coaches," Boudreau said. "If we fail like this, it's everybody's fault. We all have to pick up our socks and find out what's gone wrong in these last three games. I know it happens, but it hasn't happened to us and I don't like it."
Boudreau was wary of the Devils. Monday morning he talked about how they were not a bad team with a bad record, but instead a good team that has had a run of bad luck. He didn't want the black cloud that has covered the Devils all season to break on Washington's watch.
But, once the Devils jumped ahead 2-0 on Jason Arnott's wraparound goal 16:15 into the first period, his worries became real.
Mattias Tedenby made it 3-0 with a penalty shot goal before the first period was over and then Arnott and Dainius Zubrus struck for goals within the first eight minutes of the second period.
The Devils, who scored only three goals during their just completed 0-3 road trip, had five goals on just 13 shots against Washington. It could have been 7-0 had Holtby not come up with brilliant saves on a pair of 2-on-1 rushes later in the game, but the five goals were plenty for New Jersey to win for only the and sixth time in 21 games this season.
"It was crazy," Arnott said. "I think the last few games we played a lot better as a team and we just didn't come out with wins. Tonight, finally, the goals started going in. We played 60 minutes and everybody contributed. It was a solid team effort, but it's only one game. We've got to build on this."
The Devils are home again Wednesday, when former coach Brent Sutter brings his Calgary Flames into Prudential Center. They've won two in a row in Newark after losing seven straight at home to start the season.
"The forwards came back, helped the D out so the D could stand up," Arnott explained. "We just did things tonight that we haven't done in a while. We've been building on it the last few games, building on it and building on it, and it paid off tonight."
Devils coach John MacLean looked elated to have a rare post-game press conference where he could only say positive things.
He lauded the Devils overall approach on the defensive end, saying it was the difference in them scoring five goals.
"I thought our positioning was very good and that was a big part of the game," MacLean said. "And, we capitalized on our chances."
MacLean praised the job the defense pair of Henrik Tallinder and Colin White did in shutting down Alex Ovechkin, who was a non-factor with five relatively harmless shots. Tallinder played a team-high 25:23.
"We're looking for him to play in those situations and play big minutes," MacLean said. "We're not looking for anything other than his solid defense."
"We have to change something," said Ovechkin, who is hasn't scored in four straight games and has just 2 goals in the last 11.
MacLean praised Hedberg for coming back after getting benched Saturday in St. Louis in favor of rookie Mike McKenna, a St. Louis native who was making his first career start in his hometown.
"He wasn't happy that he wasn't playing, but he understood and he bounced back tremendously, which is what we expected him to do," MacLean said of Hedberg.
"I was very happy with how the players picked one another up all night," he added. "If there was a mistake there was somebody there to cover. They were all into it tonight in the right way."
The Capitals were not, and it's an issue that Boudreau doesn't want to deal with for much longer.
They play Wednesday at Carolina, but Tuesday's practice should be very interesting to say the least.
"Well, I'm not used to it and we'll have to deal with it, but I knew this was a team that was going to be very dangerous," Boudreau said. "They played a very good game in St. Louis and they're close to turning the corner. … That being said, we didn't do enough to stop them."