LANDOVER -- This was more like the Washington Capitals of 1995.
Forget the 4-2 victory over the Quebec Nordiques on Saturday night.
The Capitals still can't score goals, and they proved it yesterday in a 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils before 10,761 at USAir Arena.
The Devils (6-6-3) were 1-5-1 on the road before meeting the Capitals (3-9-2), and the visitors didn't have any big-time goal scorers to scare anybody.
But it didn't matter.
Capitals defender Sylvain Cote suggested yesterday that some of the team's players rethink their offensive strategy.
"We have a lot of hope in some people [such as Dimitri Khristich, Michal Pivonka, Kelly Miller and Peter Bondra] who are supposed to be our goal scorers, but right now it seems hopeless," said Cote. "Maybe they should give up their current style of playing and try to work more in the offensive sets we are trying to run."
Khristich looks to be in hot water with coach Jim Schoenfeld, as the left wing was off the ice at some key times yesterday.
Schoenfeld didn't want to elaborate on the problems with Khristich, saying, "That is between Khristich, myself and the team."
It seemed as if the Capitals returned to a tentative style of play after being more aggressive Saturday against a much better team.
Washington was 0-for-6 on power plays, and it blew a five-on-three break in the second period.
At times, the Capitals overpassed, and on other occasions they simply passed the puck to the Devils.
Schoenfeld said: "On that five-on-three, it's a situation where people have to execute, and we didn't do it."
Cote defended some of the tentative play.
"We want to get quality shots," he said. "We just don't want to shoot the puck just for the sake of getting off a shot."
However, Cote said if Khristich or Bondra could start scoring goals by going one-on-one, "I'd say go ahead and do it.
"But it doesn't look like that is going to happen," he said. "It's time to say this is not working and we have to rethink our expectations for the season."
Washington outshot New Jersey 27-25 and squandered one opportunity after another in the first 19 minutes of the third period when the Devils were leading 1-0.
New Jersey had gained that advantage on fluky a goal by Tom Chorske at 2:49 of the first period.
Chorske was credited with the goal when he deflected a backhand shot by John MacLean into the net in a roundabout way.
The puck skipped high into the air, fell behind a searching Capitals goaltender Olie Kolzig and then went into the net before he could find it.
"MacLean took an easy back-hand shot and Chorske hit it off my shoulder into the air behind me," said Kolzig. "I just couldn't find it. But I can't get frustrated about us not scoring. My job is to stop the puck and keep the team in the game. If I start to worry about us not scoring, I'm in trouble."
After the Capitals failed to score on a power play at 17:16 of the third period, Kolzig was pulled for a sixth attacker and the Devils scored an empty-net goal by MacLean with 34 seconds left in the game for a 2-0 lead.
The third period was a frustrating one for the Caps.
At 9:51 of the period Bondra fanned on a shot in front of the net off a pass from behind the net by Pivonka.
At 12:50, Cote had the puck hop over his stick as he tried to score from close range.
Then, down the stretch, it was Devils goalie Martin Brodeur making a glove save on Jim Johnson and Keith Jones being turned back from point-blank range by Brodeur.
"It gets frustrating," said Jones.
"But on the positive side, we kept the puck in their end most of the game."
New Jersey ... 1 .. 0 .. 1 .. -- .. 2
Washington ... 0 .. 0 .. 0 .. -- .. 0