LANDOVER -- Washington Capitals coach Terry Murray was seeing red last night, and it wasn't any leftover Christmas gifts.
Murray said he was ready to meet with general manager David Poile and evaluate the team after the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Capitals, 7-3, before 16,168 at the Capital Centre.
Murray said: "David [Poile] is coming to me in the office, and we're going to talk about where we are as a team right now. He came to me, and I'm glad because it's near the midpoint of the season and time to evaluate all the players."
The Capitals' winless streak grew to six (0-5-1), and they didn't even make things interesting against a streaking Pittsburgh team that still is playing without Mario Lemieux, who is out until late January with an inflamed disk in his lower back.
Fourth-place Pittsburgh (41 points) has won seven of its past eight to surge past fifth-place Washington (37 points) in the Patrick Division.
"This was a big division game," Murray said. "They [the Penguins] are right ahead of us, and we needed to win. But we didn't arrive to play. We didn't finish on our chances. We had a lot of two-on-ones and didn't get a good scoring chance. When the right people are getting the chances and you're not scoring, it's time to sit down and look at things."
The Penguins scored four goals in 2 minutes, 16 seconds against starting goaltender Mike Liut.
The outburst prompted Murray to pull Liut from the game and bring in Don Beaupre with 8:23 elapsed in the first period.
Liut said: "They put a couple in the right place, and there was nothing I could do about the other two. That was the ballgame."
Liut said he had no problem with Murray and Poile meeting to evaluate all the players.
"We're in a rut and can't afford to sit around," the goalie said. "Obviously, we're making too many mistakes. It's their job to evaluate the players. If they're starting to look at this team as not being good enough to build on, then it's a bad situation."
Asked about the possibility of trades, Liut said: "When you go through something like this, you know you're not just out there playing for that game, but you're playing for your career."
Pittsburgh's Paul Coffey, who Saturday night became only the second defenseman in National Hockey League history to accumulate 1,000 points in his career (Denis Potvin was the first), scored the first two goals last night.
Pittsburgh went on to build a 5-0 lead at 12:04 of the first period on a goal by Zarley Zalapski, and the rout was on.
"We had no patience," Washington defenseman Kevin Hatcher said. "You don't want to trade chances with Pittsburgh."
Murray summed up the night by saying: "We had too many breakdowns. I'll be glad when the Christmas holidays are over. It seems like the distractions are bothering us more than other teams."
Pittsburgh 5 1 1 -- 7
Washington 1 1 1 -- 3
First period--1, Pittsburgh, Coffey 15 (Bourque, Tanti), 6:07. 2, Pittsburgh, Coffey 16 (Gilhen, Jagr), 6:46. 3, Pittsburgh, Trottier 5 (S.Young, Zalapski), 7:48. 4, Pittsburgh, Pederson 5 (Stevens, Mullen), 8:23. 5, Pittsburgh, Zalapski 9 (Mullen), 12:04 (pp). 6, Washington, Hunter 9 (Pivonka, Druce), 14:21 (pp). Penalties-- May, Was (elbowing), 10:15; Murphy, Pit (hooking), 12:24; May, Was (cross-checking), 18:37.
Second period--7, Washington, Leach 8 (Zezel, Druce), 9:31. 8, Pittsburgh, Jagr 10 (Gilhen, Errey), 10:14. Penalties--Tanti, Pit (interference), 5:58; Bourque, Pit (holding), 12:22.
Third period--9, Washington, May 3 (Rouse, Hunter), 5:41. 10, Pittsburgh, Taglianetti 1 (Jagr), 7:15. Penalties--Lalor, Was (cross-checking), 11:37; Errey, Pit, major-game misconduct (high-sticking), 15:30; Hatcher, Was (interference), 16:25.
Shots on goal--Pittsburgh 8-10-4--22. Washington 10-12-5--27. Power-play opportunities--Pittsburgh 1 of 3; Washington 1 of 5. Goalies--Pittsburgh, Barrasso, 9-7-1 (27 shots-24 saves). Washington, Liut, 9-11-1 (5-1), Beaupre (8:28 first, 17-14). A--16,168. Referee--Mark Faucette. Linesmen-- Gord Broseker, Pat Dapuzzo.