Capitals vs. Lightning: Power-play struggles are costing Washington dearly


Capitals right wing Mike Knuble (22), center, played for the first time since he injured his hand April 17 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the New York Rangers. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)
May 2, 2011

For the second straight Eastern Conference semifinal game, the Capitals’ futility on the power play largely cost them in a close loss against Tampa Bay.

Washington went 0 for 6 with a man advantage in Game 2 on Sunday night. Despite controlling the play for large stretches of Game 2, the Lightning can credit its penalty kill for keeping them in position to pull out a 3-2 overtime win.

The Capitals are now 0 for 11 on the power play in the series and 3 for 27 in the playoffs.

As the series shifts to Tampa Bay, they are left looking for answers and fighting off frustration.

“I think overall guys want to score and there’s frustration that they’re not scoring,” winger Mike Knuble said. “We expect a lot out of our power play to score, but it’s not a [lack of] confidence type of frustration.”

Unlike in Game 1, the Capitals did create some chances Sunday and managed 12 shots during their six power-play opportunities. Bad bounces and big saves by Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson were a big reason they couldn’t score.

“We’re trying,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We’re trying different things. We’re trying to make things work. Obviously it’s not . . .We’ve just got to keep going at it.”

Knuble, Carlson back in form

Two bright spots for the Capitals on Sunday were the returns to health of winger Mike Knuble and defenseman John Carlson.

Knuble played for the first time since he injured his hand April 17 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the New York Rangers. Carlson ended up not missing a game after he played just 36 seconds at the end of Game 1 against Tampa Bay after he was involved in a collision.

Neither player factored into the scoring Sunday, but neither seemed limited by injuries.

Knuble said he felt “great” afterward, and he played his typical gritty game on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson, battling for pucks along the boards and creating traffic in front of the net.

Carlson played a team-high 26 minutes 45 seconds, and he and defensive partner Karl Alzner often matched up against the Lightning’s top line.

“He looked good, I thought,” Alzner said of Carlson. “I went back and got a couple more pucks back there than maybe sometimes, but I think he felt pretty good out there, from what I heard.”

Boucher: Lightning need a rest

Tampa Bay Coach Guy Boucher worried that his team would not be able to keep up with the Capitals if overtime extended much longer, and said the Lightning was lucky Vinny Lecavalier scored the game-winning goal when he did.

The Lightning just ended its seven-game first round series against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, and with Games 3 and 4 of this series coming up on back-to-back days Tuesday and Wednesday, 6:19 of overtime was about all Boucher felt his team could handle.

“We need rest. Rest is a weapon and it’s something we need now,” Boucher said. “The guys gave everything they had today and it was about time we scored that goal. I don’t think we could have gone on another period like that.”

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