WASHINGTON — Nico Hischier scored twice, Louis Domingue made 33 saves and the last-place New Jersey Devils routed the NHL-leading Washington Capitals 5-1 Saturday night to snap their losing streak at three.
Hischier’s 11th and 12th goals of the season came on the same night the 2017 top pick missed out on a last-chance All-Star invite. Fans voted in Washington’s T.J. Oshie instead.
Blake Coleman scored a short-handed goal, and Nikita Gusev added one moments after a power play ended for the Devils. Hischier and Coleman were the two best skaters on the ice, and behind them Domingue had a strong performance facing a ton of shots in his sixth start of the season.
Washington lost back-to-back games in regulation for the second time this season and has dropped four of seven. Defensive-zone miscues continue to haunt the Capitals, who largely hung All-Star goalie Braden Holtby out to dry as he allowed four goals on 21 shots.
Despite Jakub Vrana’s goal in his first game since a promotion to the first unit, the Capitals’ power-play struggles continued. They allowed a short-handed goal for the second consecutive game and went 1 for 5 on the power play — including a botched 5-on-3 chance in the third period.
Devils interim coach Alain Nasreddine wanted to see how his team would respond to this skid after winning three in a row. He held a meeting Saturday morning reminding players about defensive responsibility, and the message seemed to get through.
“We’ve had success, now, how are we going to respond to some adversity?” Nasreddine said. “We felt good about our game. It’s a matter of finding (it and) going back to playing the right way.”
New Jersey bounced back from a lousy 6-3 loss at the rival New York Rangers by cleaning up a lot of what went wrong Thursday. The Devils withstood an initial push from the Capitals in the game’s first minutes and appeared to catch the league’s top team sleepwalking through long stretches.
Miles Wood scored an empty-netter with five minutes left to seal it. … F Jesper Bratt returned to the Devils lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury. … F Jack Hughes didn’t travel to D.C. but skated on his own back in New Jersey, according to Nasreddine, who said the first overall pick is “inching closer” to returning from an upper-body injury. … With goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood out because of an upper-body injury, Evan Cormier was called up to back up Domingue. … Washington sent D Christian Djoos back to AHL Hershey after he healed up from an upper-body injury.
Devils: Return home to face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday.
Capitals: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.
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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press