As much of the attention, albeit negative, is squarely on the Washington Capitals' sagging power play, that most frustrating deficiency has been counterbalanced somewhat by the team's torrid penalty killing.
Washington has killed off 22 of 23 power plays, including 16 in a row, and is ranked second in the NHL in that category at 85.9 percent. In its most recent game, a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Monday, Washington went 2 for 2 on the penalty kill.
The Capitals have not finished among the league's top 10 in penalty killing since the 1999-00 season and haven't been higher than 17 over the past eight years.
"I know that we've always focused this year on the PK and defensive zone, and now we're doing well," said defenseman Mike Green, who led the Capitals with 29 minutes 19 seconds of ice team against the Rangers.
That attention to defense has translated into Washington having allowed 34 goals over its past 18 games. The Capitals are ranked seventh in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.48). They haven't been in the top 12 since 1999-00.
Washington figures to get another test defensively and on the penalty kill tonight when it faces Atlanta at Philips Arena. The Thrashers, who have beaten Washington in two straight games during which they outscored the Capitals 8-1, are ranked ninth in power play percentage (20.6) and 10th in goals per game (2.9).
"It's just one of those things where we didn't bring our A game or whatever," forward Jason Chimera said of the losses to Atlanta. "They're a good team. They got a lot of young guys who can score, and they've got a good defense, so we've just got to be ready."