If you followed our previews in advance of the start of the Capitals-Panthers series, you know that we highlighted special teams as one of the areas that could be a difference-maker for the Washington Capitals. The Panthers penalty kill was ranked 16th in the league while their power play was ranked the 5th-best in the league during the regular season.
While the Capitals have found several ways to turn the tide in their favor if the first three games of the series, none has been bigger than the Capitals penalty kill, which has risen to the occasion and shut down the Panthers high-flying power play. In fact, the Capitals penalty kill has been perfect, stopping all nine Panthers’ power plays in the series, including all three in Saturday’s Game 3. That’s a difference-maker.
Capitals penalty killer Trevor van Riemsdyk spoke after the game about the unit’s performance so far in the series.
“I think we’re doing a good job of being prepared, being on the same page. When it calls for it, sacrifice and blocking shots. We’ve had some huge saves when things do break down,” said van Riemsdyk.
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette believes the penalty kill has been up to the task, primarily because of their execution.
”Our guys have done a really good job on the penalty kill. Sacrificing. They’ve got a dangerous group so it calls you to attention right away. Execution is usually the penalty kill,” said Laviolette.
In Saturday’s Game 3, with the game tied 1-1, the Capitals were called for back-to-back penalties in the first five minutes of the second period. The penalty kill did it’s job on both kills, which brought a raucous ovation from the fans. Shortly after the second kill Marcus Johansson scored to give the Capitals their first lead of the game.
”You can feed off of the that. The penalty kill can throw energy into the game with big blocks and big kills and big saves by your goaltender. You can come back out after that and get goin five-on-five, you can definitely feed off that,” added Laviolette.
Game 4 of the series is set for Monday night at Capital One Arena. Puck drop is set for 7:30 PM.