The Capitals are a fragile team right now and if their 2-8-1 record is not evidence enough, Thursday night’s 5-2 loss certainly was.

A second period collapse of epic proportions led to five unanswered goals – three of them on the power play – as the Caps lost for the fifth time in six games.

The loss snapped a 9-0-1 streak for the Capitals at Consol Energy Center and kept them in the NHL’s basement, five points out of a playoff spot and 11 points behind the Penguins, who won for the fifth straight time and lead the Eastern Conference with an 8-3-0 record.

“It seems like guys think this is going to turn around without any extra effort and that's not the case,” Capitals right wing Troy Brouwer said. “There’s not a whole lot of confidence in our abilities right now. We did look deflated because we were.”

Defenseman Karl Alzner, who took two of the Capitals’ five penalties, agreed that the Capitals are dangerously low on confidence as they try to cope with their worst start in nine seasons.

“There are very few guys who are playing with confidence right now,” Alzner said. “Ribs [Mike Ribeiro] is probably one of the only guys. It’s on each other to get that confidence. That the goalies will make every save; that the dee will make every pass; and the forwards’ every shot will go in.

“I guess we’re a little afraid to make mistakes right now and that’s not the way you want to play. That’s not how the Penguins are playing.”

Ironically, the Caps playing one of their best periods of the season in the first 20 minutes, taking a 1-0 lead on Ribeiro’s fourth goal of the season. But when Alzner took an interference penalty on James Neal 6:49 into the second period, obstructing his path to the puck, the Penguins made them pay with Evgeni Malkin’s power-play goal.