NEW YORK -- There is only one way the Capitals can lose their first-round playoff series against the New York Rangers and on Monday night they showed how.
The Capitals went to the penalty box six times in the first two periods, giving the Rangers six power plays and keeping Alex Ovechkin glued to the bench.
“Too much in the box,” Capitals defenseman Mike Green said. “The offensive guys are sitting on the bench and it takes some time to get some momentum.”
In a span of just over 25 minutes, Ovechkin [roughing], Joel Ward [high-sticking], Mathieu Perreault [too many men], Braden Holtby [tripping], Jay Beagle [hooking] and Steve Oleksy [hooking] took penalties.
And while the Rangers were only credited with one power-play goal by Derick Brassard, they scored another by Brian Boyle before Ward could get out of the penalty box and onto the ice.
“Your momentum gets killed,” Beagle said, “and it’s tough to get going again. We need to keep our sticks down and stay off the refs.”
It marked just the second time since January that the Caps gave an opponent six or more power plays in a game and it drew attention to their Achilles’ heel at the start of the season when they started 2-8-1.
The Capitals outshot the Rangers 30-18 at even strength, but were outshot 12-1 in outnumbered situations.
So far in this series, the team that has scored a power play goal has won each game.
The Caps went 0-for-3 on the man-advantage and by the looks of Steve Oleksy’s right eye, they probably should have had a fourth power play.
Oleksy needed about a half dozen stitches to close a cut above his right eye after getting clipped by Rick Nash’s stick.
“The ref looked right at me and didn’t call anything,” Oleksy said.
As for the Rangers’ power play, which was 0-for-7 in Games 1 and 2, Beagle said the Rangers made some adjustments, getting traffic in front of Holtby and generating offense from the blue line.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said that if the Rangers want to even the series with a win in Game 4, they’ll need to win the special teams war with the Capitals.
“It’s going to be the difference a lot of nights,” Lundqvist said. “The difference between the teams is so small, so when you get that advantage you try and cash in.”