Washington went 0-for-6 with the man advantage Sunday night in Game 2 of its Eastern Conference Semifinal series against the Tampa Bay Lightning – a big reason they lost 3-2 in overtime. The Capitals also did not score in five opportunities in Game 1 and are now in a 2-0 hole in this series as it shifts to Florida.
"We're trying. We're trying different things," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We're trying to make things work. Obviously it is not. It is not like there are bad penalty killers -- they stopped [34 out of 35] against Pittsburgh. We've got to just keep going at it."
Tampa Bay did shut down the Penguins' power play, but Pittsburgh was without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and could not put players like Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom on the ice. While Pittsburgh has Kris Letang on defense, Washington has depth on the points in Mike Green and John Carlson -- and Ovechkin normally plays there as well.
The Capitals had more chances in this game -- 12 shots on goal after getting only five in Game 1. But Dwayne Roloson was up to the task on the first chances and second ones were hard to find.
"I think that's fair to say," Mike Knuble said when asked if the power play was to blame. "We had the guys that are very highly skilled and have been on power plays their whole life and know what to do when we go out there. At times we were doing the right things; at times we weren't. It was ugly at times. But it's just finding a loose puck and getting one in. That was the difference tonight."
Added Brooks Laich: "Sometimes you go through stretches where you don't score. We wanna obviously create as much traffic and shots at the net as we can, and I play a lot of minutes on it so I have to be better on it. I gotta shoot the puck more. The passing – I think any time your power play is struggling your passing isn't good. So I think we gotta make better passes and just stick with it. We can't get frustrated, we can't pull apart. When the power play's struggling, you gotta stick with your teammates, work together, talk it through and believe in each other and you'll get a goal."
Typically when teams are able to get power-play opportunities in quick succession it makes it even more likely they will convert. Washington had back-to-back-to-back power plays in the first period and six in a span of 20 minutes between the first and second periods, but the Lightning PK did not buckle despite the heavy workload.
Tampa Bay Forwards Adam Hall and Nate Thompson and defensemen Mattias Ohlund and Eric Brewer all logged more than six minutes on the PK during that span.
The power play's struggles are not a new problem for the Capitals in the postseason. Washington went 1-for-33 against Montreal in a seven-game defeat last spring, and the Capitals are now 4-for-60 with the man advantage in the postseason since the start of that series against the Canadiens.
"I thought for the most part we played pretty well," Boudreau said. "We didn't capitalize on our special teams, and that was the big key is winning that battle. We lost both games 1-0 in the special teams, and quite frankly both games were one-goal games."
Added Ovechkin: "We have chances. We just didn't score. Sometimes we didn't play well but again, we have to play better."