A night after absorbing a 4-0 shutout at the hands of the St. Louis Blues, the Caps went back to work against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday at Capital One Arena. The results weren't much better - the Caps fell by a 4-1 count - but Washington coach Barry Trotz saw more that pleased him on Saturday than on Friday night, particularly along the blueline.
Video: Trotz talks to the media after #CapsCanes
"Some guys acquitted themselves pretty well," says Trotz. "That was a much better game from the young group of [Christian] Djoos and [Jonas Siegenthaler]. I was really happy with both of those guys and even [Connor] Hobbs, who has got a couple of games under his belt. They did a pretty decent job.
Old friend Justin Williams started the scoring on a Carolina power play midway through the first, putting the rebound of a Justin Faulk shot behind Pheonix Copley, who started and played the first 20 minutes of Saturday's contest. Williams' goal staked the Canes to a 1-0 lead at 10:52 of the first.
Just over six minutes later, the Caps pulled even on a power play of their own. Washington's first home ice goal of the preseason came on a pretty passing play. From the right half wall, Evgeny Kuznetsov went down low to Jakub Vrana at the goal line. Vrana quickly bumped the puck right to Alex Chiasson in the diamond spot, and Chiasson drilled a one-timer over the outstretched glove hand of veteran Carolina goaltender Cam Ward at 16:59 of the first.
Video: WSH Recap: Chiasson scores in 4-1 loss
The Caps started the second period on the penalty kill, and with Philipp Grubauer in goal. Once the kill was completed, the Caps began to put together some good shifts in the attack zone, generating some scoring chances and getting some pucks to the net.
Djoos was particularly noticeable in the attack zone in the second period, pushing the play and generating some offensive zone time and scoring chances that have been mostly lacking from the Caps' game this preseason.
Carolina broke the deadlock on a Trevor Carrick one-timer from the high slot, a perfectly placed shot that beat Grubauer high to the stick side at 12:10 of the middle frame.
The Hurricanes padded their lead to 3-1 early in the third, getting a rush goal from Julien Gauthier, who ripped a shot past Grubauer on the short side, doing so from the right circle.
Faulk's empty-netter with 2:12 remaining accounted for the 4-1 final score, and dropped the Capitals to 1-3 on the preseason, with three games remaining.
Video: Caps Postgame Locker Room | September 23
"It was a good test against a team that's pretty structured, and they play fast," says Trotz. "But we've got to score some five-on-five goals. Right now, we've got one in four games. I know that we'll be able to score some; we've proven that in the past years. But we've got to get back to some of our basic stuff. I thought today was a little bit better. It was much better than [Friday]."