NEWARK, N.J. — It might be a new season for the Devils, but their struggles against the Capitals have stretched into the 2021-22 campaign.
After winning their opening two games, the Devils were humbled in a 4-1 loss against the Capitals in front of 12,377 fans on Thursday night at Prudential Center.
The Capitals opened the game with four unanswered goals to improve to 3-0-1 on the season, while the loss dropped the Devils to 2-1.
It was the Devils' ninth straight loss against the Capitals after they came up short in all eight meetings last season, picking up just two points in those matchups. They have not beaten the Capitals since Feb. 22, 2020.
Capitals right winger Daniel Sprong assisted on the opening goal and tacked on an insurance tally on a breakaway midway through the second period. Evgeny Kuznetsov also had a goal and an assist for the Caps.
The Devils broke through for the first time on the power play on their sixth attempt of the season and only attempt of the game as Janne Kuokkanen beat Vitek Vanacek five-hole off assists by Damon Severson and Dawson Mercer late in the third period.
The Devils looked every bit as shorthanded as they were heading into a matchup with a perennial contender in the Eastern Conference.
Without star center Jack Hughes, who missed his first game since suffering a dislocated shoulder in the Devils' second game against the Kraken, the attack could not find the net.
Without their top two goalies in Mackenzie Blackwood and Jonathan Bernier and top-four defenseman Ty Smith, the Capitals pestered the Devils blue-liners and wreaked havoc with their connections in open ice.