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Alex Ovechkin celebrating a goal in the third period in the Devils 5-1 loss in Washington. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett - Getty Images

Devils Lose It In Third; Special Teams Stumble In Blowout Loss

Washington, D.C. - The New Jersey Devils had a very lethargic performance against the Capitals in Saturday’s blowout loss in Washington.

February 23, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom (19) skates with the puck behind New Jersey Devils goalie Johan Hedberg (1) in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Devils (10-4-4) could not get any opportunities to work for them. Washington’s Braden Holtby played a stellar game in net for the Caps. The Capitals (6-10-1) and last in the Eastern Conference entering today, played their best game.

The Capitals started out with many scoring chances including Wojtek Wolski was in the crease behind Hedberg all alone and shanked it wide. But even with the ice tilted in the 1st period, the game was still tied going into the 2nd.

Alex Ovechkin scored the first of his three goals at 5:20 in the second period on a one-timer from Mike Ribeiro who got it in the slot from Jason Chimera. Ovechkin was left open after a hit to Stefan Matteau, who turned 19 today, at the other end created the scoring opportunity for the Caps.

Later in the period Steve Bernier got hooked on a breakaway giving him a penalty shot; however, Holtby stepped up for the challenge and slammed the door to the five-hole.

Ilya Kovalchuk tied it up with 38 seconds left in the second period on a nice breakout pass from Alexei Ponikarovski to Andrei Loktionov who dropped it off to allow Kovy to take the shot. The snipe beat Holtby far blocker side, post-and-in giving Kovy his 7th of the year.

Then the wheels fell off for the Devils in the third.

1:23 into the period Ovechkin put the Capitals back on top with a snap-shot using New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov as a screen.

Then things completely fell apart as the Devils were on a power play and Johan Hedberg gave the puck away behind then net to give Eric Fehr a short-handed goal. Fehr’s 4th of the year came at 3:56, it was the first short-handed goal New Jersey has given up this year.

Hat trick in Washington

February 23, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Hats thrown by fans lie on the ice after Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (not pictured) scores a hat-trick goal against the New Jersey Devils in the third period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 5-1. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Ovechkin finalized his hat trick during a high sticking penalty to Stefan Matteau at 15:13. Ribeiro had his second assist as he set up Ovechkin for a one-timer that beat Hedberg. The four time 50 goal scorer had his first hat trick in over two years.

The Devils allowed another power play goal in the third to Troy Brouwer, giving Ovechkin his fourth point of the game on an assist.

This was Johan Hedberg’s the second straight 5-1 loss this season. The first coming to the Islanders a week ago, but it was not entirely his fault. The Devils played very lackadaisical this afternoon putting a lot of pressure on Hedberg. Special teams hurt the Devils as well; allowing two power play goals and one short-handed goal. The Devils have struggled so far this year ranking 22nd with a 78.2 kill percentage.

Braden Holtby had a great performance in net for the caps saving 21 out of 22 shots faced.

The win boosts the Capitals out of last place in the East in front of Buffalo with 13 points.

The Devils look to bounce back as they take the ice again Sunday evening in a strange 5pm start against the Winnipeg Jets in Newark, N.J.

Tags: Alexander Ovechkin Johan Hedberg New Jersey Devils

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