QUEBEC -- No one in the slot. No one at the far post. No one home in front of the net.
The Capitals lost to the Quebec Nordiques last night, not so much because goalie Olie Kolzig, a last-minute entry in the net, wasn't up to the test, but because Washington couldn't change the flow of the game.
When Quebec scored, the Caps had no answer and lost, 5-1, despite outshooting Quebec 30-17.
"We could be deceived by the shot clock," said Caps coach Jim Schoenfeld. "We did outshoot them, but we gave them great chances, two breakaway goals, two-on-one chances. They scored three goals against us on the rush and we're a team that part of our game plan is not to give up any odd-man rushes. It's the kind of hockey we have to play and tonight we weren't committed to playing that style.
"The biggest breakdown was a desire to compete from the time they dropped the puck."
Most of the shots Washington took on Quebec goalie Stephane Fiset could have been mailed in, they were so far away from the goal, and with no one in front, second shots were scarce.
"Yes, I'm disappointed we didn't drive to the net," said Schoenfeld. "We want someone driving to the net. But it takes commitment. It takes a willingness to go in there and get slashed and chopped and only a few of our guys -- Dale [Hunter] and Kono [Steve Konowalchuk] and Dave Poulin were willing to do that.
"Joe Juneau is not expected to carry the load. He's going to get the puck to our people, but our players have to get in the position to be dangerous. It's up to the other four to do that."
Juneau spent nearly all of the third period, and most of the first two, on the ice, searching for someone to pass to. But aside from a brilliant pass to Hunter -- who also saw abundant ice time -- for the Caps' only goal in the second period, he got little done.
"We haven't worked on our power play and we haven't worked on our five-on-three, and it showed," said Juneau. "It will get better."
Quebec jumped to a 2-0 lead on two goals that were almost embarrassing. On the first one, Joe Sakic put the puck through Hunter's knees and then skated around him to pick up the puck and get it into position for Andrei Kovalenko to tap it past Kolzig into the net.
On the next goal, Washington center Michal Pivonka and the Nordiques' star rookie, Peter Forsberg, were chopping at the puck behind the Caps goal, when Owen Nolan swept in, picked it up and went around the net to put the puck through Kolzig's legs for a 2-0 lead.
"The bottom line is we have to win," said left wing Craig Berube. "We were on a high from Hartford, but Hartford was a tie. We weren't sharp. We didn't go to the net. And we left Olie Kolzig out to dry. We may not have meant to, but that's exactly what we did."
With play moving into the Caps' zone, Mike Ricci broke free and was tripped on his way to the Caps' net. The official signaled a penalty to come, but before that was necessary, Caps defenseman Calle Johansson was taken out of the play and Sakic found himself wide open to Kolzig's left. He scored to make it 3-0.
It was about nine minutes later when Juneau found Hunter in front of the net for the Caps' only goal.
"Joe is a great passer and basically you've got to get open and he'll lay it right on your tape for an easy goal," said Hunter, who scored on the Caps' fifth power play. "So, we've got to fight through the checks and get open for him."
Goalie Rick Tabaracci was supposed to be on the hot seat in this game, but his pinky finger was hit by a puck during practice Monday, swelled overnight and by game time Tabaracci could not bend the finger, which is on his stick-handling hand.
Thus, Kolzig found himself in the net for his second start.
Going into the third period, the Caps still were in the game, at 3-1, but back-to-back odd-man rushes took care of that.
With 6:50 gone in the third, John Slaney pinched toward the Quebec goal and Nolan was able to break the other way.
Defenseman Sylvain Cote, who through the years has spent a lot of his time covering for other defensemen, couldn't stop Nolan and neither could Kolzig.
Less than a minute later, Nordiques left wing Martin Rucinsky broke clear to make it 5-1.
Even a 5-on-3 power play in the closing five minutes could not produce another Washington goal.
"I don't know if we weren't ready," said Berube. "I think we've got to get more people going to the net and standing in the goalie's face. Especially on the power play.
"We obviously don't score goals on the rush with fancy plays. We've got to get goals by grinding it out, and we're just not
Washington ... 0 .. 1 .. 0 .. -- .. 1
Quebec ....... 2 .. 1 .. 2 .. -- .. 5
Opponent: Montreal Canadiens
Site: Montreal Forum
TV/Radio: Ch. 20/WMAL (630 AM)
Outlook: Montreal is 0-1-0 after losing to the New York Rangers, 5-2, on Saturday night, and already has faced questions concerning its offense. Montreal anticipates a sellout for its home opener. Capitals RW Keith Jones has a chipped tooth, and D Calle Johansson has a gash over his right eye. Both are expected to be available.