The Capitals Penalty Kill has been an X-Factor the Last Three Games

Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

After trailing their series 2-0 to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Washington Capitals won their next three games to take a 3-2 series lead heading into Monday night’s Game 6. Two of those wins came on the road and the Capitals will look to close out the series in Columbus tomorrow night. With the team off, Barry Trotz spoke to reporters Sunday morning on a conference call

In Games 1 and 2, the Blue Jackets had two goals on the power play in each game. One of the biggest factors in the Capitals wins over the last three games has been how the penalty kill has stepped up.

“The penalty kill has been a major contribution to us just as the power play was the in the first two games offensively for us (the Capitals power play had two goals in Game 1 and three goals in Game 2). The penalty kill has been a major factor for us the last three games,” Trotz said. “We keep making adjustments just as last night I thought Columbus made a lot of adjustments on their penalty kill. They were a lot more aggressive than they were in Columbus and they had a shorthanded goal. They changed some things on their power play so we may tweak a little bit of things with our PK.”

In Game 3’s win the Capitals penalty kill stopped four Blue Jackets power plays while in Game 4 the PK killed all three penalties.

“I think as a group they’ve all stepped up. I don’t think I can single out anybody, I just think the whole group has stepped up,” said Trotz. “The penalty kill is as good as the five guys you have or your goaltender. They’ve been very committed.”

Game 5 was the biggest challenge to date for the penalty kill unit on both sides as a combined nine penalties were called, all in the first two periods. The Capitals were whistled for five penalties which gave the Blue Jackets five chances to take command in a game that they were dominating. The Capitals PK stopped all five power plays. Trotz was asked about the officiating and why there’s been an uptick in the amount of penalties called.

“I think it’s just the intensity of the playoffs. There’s a little bit of chippiness. I don’t think the nastiness of some previous series that we’ve had is there. I think there’s some chippiness but I just think the referees have been mandated to keep the game as clean as possible and I think the players recognize that you can’t get those extracurriculars,” Trotz said. “The extracurriculars that you do around scrums after the whistle, those have been pushed out of the game lately in the last two years. If there’s any nastiness, it usually happens during the play now.”

The penalty kill has stopped a combined 12 Blue Jackets power plays in a row. It’s a momentum that has willed the Capitals to those last three wins. The PK looks to come up big in Game 6 as the Capitals hope to close out the series tomorrow night.

By Michael Marzzacco

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2 Responses to The Capitals Penalty Kill has been an X-Factor the Last Three Games

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