A fast start by the New Jersey Devils isn't all that shocking given their run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season.
A winless record by the Washington Capitals through three games is a bit more surprising.
The Capitals hope to secure their first victory of the season on Friday night and prevent the Devils from posting a 3-0 start to their campaign.
Washington has given up 14 goals over a 3-0 start, getting outscored 8-3 in back-to-back home games. That includes Thursday night, when the Capitals were bested by the Montreal Canadiens 4-1.
Michal Neuvirth gave up four goals -- all in the second period -- on 22 shots for the Capitals, who did not find the scoreboard until Joey Crabb's tally with 2:23 left in regulation.
"Embarrassing is almost the right term right now," said Washington's Troy Brouwer. "Pathetic is probably a better one. You know, I feel bad for the fans. I'd like to finish a game with at least 50 percent of the fans still in the stands. Their reaction is completely warranted - booing us. We haven't earned any respect. We haven't earned any of their passion, their ambition. We've got to turn something around, and we've got to do it fast."
Getting some of their top forwards going would help. Though new addition Mike Ribeiro has a respectable three assists through three games, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom have yet to score while combining for three assists and a minus-4 rating.
That has Washington, which won its first seven games of the 2011-12 season, off to its worst start since going 0-6 in 1993-94.
"I would say some of our mistakes are pure effort," said first-year Washington head coach Adam Oates. "It's very upsetting. I'm not pushing the panic button, but obviously it's upsetting. We're pros, you've got to be a pro, and you've got to do your job."
Oates tries again for his first NHL head coaching win against the Devils, who he served as an assistant with the last two seasons and specialized on the power play.
"I got a great deal of stuff from (Oates) last year, too," said Devils head coach Pete DeBoer. "How we play is a combination of all the coaches we had here last year. We tweaked things throughout the year based on different opinions ...What we ended up with worked, so I anticipate that we'll see a lot of the similar things."
What DeBoer has done so far this season has also worked, with the Devils opening the season with a road win over the New York Islanders before winning their home opener 3-0 over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Martin Brodeur made 24 saves to record the 120th shutout of his career.
"I've worked really hard to get to where I am," Brodeur said. "The team's playing well and I'm just trying to play hockey. I'm happy to be back."
Ilya Kovalchuk tallied a goal and an assist, while Travis Zajac and David Clarkson also lit the lamp for the Devils, who last began a season 3-0 in 2002-03.
The Devils won three of four versus the Capitals last season, winning two of those in a shootout. They have won four of their past six at home in this series.