Monday, May 2, 2011, 12:07 a.m.
By Ryan OHalloran
In the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Tampa Bays penalty-killing unit was nearly perfect, extinguishing 35 of Pittsburghs 36 chances in a seven-game series win.
But the Penguins weren't The Penguins.
No Sid. No Malkin. No chance.
Seeing major power-play minutes were the doesnt-scary-anybody quartet of Zbynek Michalek, Mark Letestu, James Neal and Tyler Kennedy.
The Lightning have built a 2-0 advantage over the Capitals in part because they are 11-for-11 on the penalty kill, including 6-for-6 in Sundays overtime win.
And the Capitals are The Capitals.
At least theyre supposed to be. They have Alex Ovechkin at the point. They have Nicklas Backstrom roaming the wall. They have Alexander Semin looking for a one-timer.
The Capitals have no excuses.
Their power play is broken, and as a result, the Capitals will need to win at least two road games to advance.
Uh-oh time? Maybe.
The Capitals had the luxury of a week off, home ice and more depth. And it hasnt mattered.
While a bad line change in overtime (just inexcusable at this stage) was to blame for Vinny Lecavaliers winner, the power play is to blame for the series deficit.
Tonight was like a missed opportunity with all those power plays, Mike Knuble said. It came down to that they got one and we didnt.
The most maddening part about the Capitals powerless man advantage was they came one right after another. The Lightning provided ample chances for Washington to build a lead, keep the crowd in the game and even the series heading south for back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday.
Instead, what we saw was a stagnant unit that didnt fire shots at the net (12 shots in the six power plays), didnt generate much traffic in front of Dwayne Roloson and spent more time fetching the puck out of their own zone.
All of the power plays came in the first half of the game the Capitals spent 11:32 of the first 31 minutes up a skater and had nothing to show for it.
Were trying. Were trying different things, coach Bruce Boudreau said. Were trying to make things work. Obviously, its not. Its not like theyre bad penalty killers. Weve got to just keep going at it.
The Capitals arent in foreign territory. The power play was average the entire regular season, and theres still that 1-for-33 disaster in last years train wreck against Montreal.
Aside from Jason Arnott, the same players are involved this year.
Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Knuble and Brooks Laich know each others games well.
We know we have the guys to do it, Knuble said. Its just about executing it. Guys are frustrated that theyre not scoring, and we expect a lot out of ourselves.
The Capitals were able to solve the Rangers Henrik Lundqvist in the first round, and now they have to handle Roloson, who stopped 35 shots in Game 2.
Your best penalty killer is your goaltender, Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. The other thing we got lucky. Thats also a part of it. We know theyre going to work hard on their power play, so Im expecting the next game, theyre going to give us their best, obviously.
Also obvious is that only the Capitals' best power play and best game overall will help them get back into this series.
We have to down there and win some games, Knuble said. There will be a big sense of urgency. Hopefully, we can all raise our games.
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