SUN Hockey Pool

NHL notes: Capitals say team needs to work harder

Dallas Stars defenceman Alex Goligoski shoots against Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby at...

Dallas Stars defenceman Alex Goligoski shoots against Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Oct. 5, 2013. (JIM COWSERT/USA Today)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:45 PM ET

The Washington Capitals are in an early-season rut.

Over the club’s last three games – all losses -- they’ve managed only four goals and, according to players, it can be at least partly attributed to a lack of effort.

“It’s about wanting to win,” Capitals forward Troy Brouwer told CSNWashington.com following the team’s 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night. “That’s all it comes down to. Our talent level’s there. Our effort’s not.”

Eric Fehr, another Washington forward, agreed with Brouwer.

“We were too soft,” he said of the loss. "We’ve got a lot of skill, but we’ve got to put that aside and start working a lot harder so our skill can take over.”

The Capitals (1-4) can begin turning things around Monday. The team faces the struggling Edmonton Oilers (1-3-1) at home.

HERTL INJURY NOT SERIOUS

Early-season Calder Trophy favourite Tomas Hertl will be OK despite leaving Saturday night's San Jose Sharks game with a shoulder injury.

Hertl, who collided awkwardly with Ottawa Senators forward Clarke MacArthur toward the end of the second period, headed to the locker room immediately. He didn’t return.

After the game, Sharks coach Todd McLellan told the San Jose Mercury News that Hertl was “a little bit sore but I think he’ll be fine tomorrow.” The youngster missed practice Sunday but is expected to suit up Tuesday versus the St. Louis Blues.

Five games into his NHL career, Hertl, 19, has a league-leading seven goals. Heading into Sunday’s action he was tied with veterans Joffrey Lupul and Alex Steen for second place on the points list, trailing only Sidney Crosby.

ROY WANTS MORE RESPECT

Perfect through five games as a big-league coach, Patrick Roy believes his squad is due for a little more respect across the NHL.

At 5-0, the Colorado Avalanche are just two wins away from tying the best start in franchise history, set in 1985-86 when they were the Quebec Nordiques. The San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues are the only other undefeated teams.

“Right now we're just saying, 'Why not? Why not us?'” Roy told the Denver Post after Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Washington Capitals.

"We've been working hard every day; we've been remaining humble and know that we're playing against very good teams. It was a tough trip ... but we're very happy with how it went."

The second-worst team in the league last season, Colorado is looking sharp so far, scoring 18 goals while allowing four.

TOOTOO UNHAPPY WITH NEWBURY

With 19 seconds left in Saturday night’s Detroit Red Wings-Philadelphia Flyers tilt, Kris Newbury gave Jordan Tootoo a nice whack to the back of the leg.

Tootoo, the Red Wings grinder, told MLive.com Sunday the slash was “gutless.”

“It’s just uncalled for when a guy’s got your back to him. That’s just a gutless play,” said Tootoo, adding he had “no clue” who Newbury -- a veteran of only 74 NHL games -- was prior to the incident.

Detroit is on the road Monday to play the Boston Bruins. Tootoo, who practised Sunday, is expected to be in the lineup.

BRIEFLY

Carolina Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu has been activated off injured reserve. Ruutu, who suited up Sunday versus the Phoenix Coyotes, missed Carolina’s opening five games due to a lower-body injury … Hurricanes goalie Anton Khudobin was hurt Sunday in a start against the Phoenix Coyotes. Khudobin left midway through the second period with a lower-body injury.


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