Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The Washington Capitals returned home with a 2-0 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning and momentum on their side. After dropping Games 3 and 4 at Capital One Arena, the Capitals will head to Tampa Bay with the series knotted at two. One of the biggest struggles for the Capitals has been their play on special teams over the last two games.
Over the last two games, the Capitals have gone 0-for-7 on the man-advantage. In Game 4, the Capitals had three power plays in a row in the opening period and couldn’t convert once. The Capitals registered just nine shots on four power play opportunities.
The Lightning on the other hand have gone 3-for-7 on the power play over the last two games. Those numbers don’t include the dagger that came late in Game 4. After the Capitals just killed off a penalty, they couldn’t clear the puck and Alex Kilorn made them pay.
“It was one of those things where we did a good job of killing it off and just needed to hold on for a couple more seconds but that being said, our kills gotta be better,” said Tom Wilson.
“We’re aware of that. At this time of year it’s so critical. We obviously have some players that can make things happen but there’s no reason they should be scoring every time they go on the ice.”
Lars Eller was responsible for five of the Capitals seven penalties over the last two games, including both Capitals penalties in Game 4. The Lightning converted on the power play in the first period on a goal by Steven Stamkos.
“It was way too many,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said after the game.
“That’s on Lars and no one else. He’s been great in this series. He’s played really well, we just got to get him out of the box.”
The Capitals finished the regular season with the 7th best power play in the league at a 22.5% conversion rate. The Capitals penalty kill finished the regular season 15th in the league with a 80.3% success rate. The Capitals power play is cumulatively the 3rd best with a 28.6% conversion rate. The penalty kill is 12th (out of 16 teams) on the penalty kill at 73.7% success rate.
In order for the Capitals to take control of this series, they need to stay disciplined and out of the box. When they’re granted a power play, Washington needs to show up like they did in the first two games of the series where they went 3-for-7 and found the back of the net 13 times over the first two rounds.
By Michael Marzzacco