WASHINGTON - Playing without starting goaltender Olie Kolzig, the Washington Capitals were helpless and embarrassed last night by the surging Boston Bruins, who got seven goals from seven different players for a 7-2 victory.
Continuing a hot early season performance, the Bruins scored four times before the second period was two minutes old and chased backup goalie Craig Billington to the showers for the second time this season.
But the loss could not be pinned totally on goaltending. The Capitals went 1-for-8 on the power play and seemed to simply dissolve on defense.
"I don't know how to describe it," said forward Jaromir Jagr, who assisted on both Caps goals - by Kip Miller and Steve Konowalchuk. "Our defense didn't move the puck, our forwards - we had so many chances but couldn't buy a goal - and our goalie can't make a save."
All of it played into the hands of the Bruins, who earned their fifth road win in seven games and improved to 6-1-2 overall.
The Capitals fell below .500 at 4-5-1 and looked out of sync from the beginning. Scoring two goals or fewer in their past eight games, the Capitals continued to hunt for their offense despite an elite power-play unit and a lineup that includes Jagr, Peter Bondra and Robert Lang.
"What concerns me most, is that we aren't getting to the rebounds for the second chances," said Capitals coach Bruce Cassidy. "But tonight, we weren't very good in any area, though we did get the puck to the net. So I guess we created offense - I guess."
Kolzig, placed on injured reserve Tuesday, will be out until at least Monday with a sprained wrist. While he heals, goaltending falls to the veteran Billington and rookie Sebastien Charpentier.
In four games, Billington, who gave up four goals on 12 shots last night, has been up and down, going 0-3-1 with a goals-against average well over three. The steadiness he displayed in past seasons here has been noticeably absent, and he appeared unable to help himself last night when his team's defense abandoned him.
"No one is more disappointed than myself," Billington said. "I make no excuses and hold myself accountable."
Charpentier, originally tapped to be Kolzig's backup before management changed its mind and shipped him to the Portland (Maine) Pirates of the American Hockey League, was called up Tuesday. The Bruins welcomed him to the game just as they had Billington.
At 10:06, Bryan Berard skated unhampered through the Caps' defense and tapped the puck between Charpentier's legs for a 5-1 lead. The rookie allowed three goals on 17 shots.
Billington was victimized for the first goal of the night just 1:31 into play, when Boston wing P.J. Axelsson put away a rebound. Boston's Rob Zamuner made it 2-0 7 1/2 minutes later on a slap shot.
"Craig has an opportunity to get minutes," Cassidy said. "But in three of four games, he hasn't given us a chance to win. If he wants that job, he has to win. I'm not going to sugarcoat it. And we have to play defense."
Jozef Stumpel scored Boston's third goal with 2:32 left in the period.
The Caps got on the scoreboard with a power-play goal by Miller off an assist from Jagr at 9:22, making the score 2-1. But Washington blew seven more power play chances, including one five-on-three for 1:31, against Boston's 26th-ranked penalty-killing unit.