To say that special teams will be the difference in a contest is an easy cliché for any player or coach, but for the Capitals this postseason it’s grounded in reality.
Washington is 4-1 in the playoffs when recording a power play goal, 2-4 when it does not. So it’s not surprising that the first item the Capitals, mention when discussing what they can improve is the man-advantage.
Two opportunities on the power play in Game 4 offered some encouragement for Washington, which is 5-for-31 in the postseason and 2-for-12 against the Rangers. The Capitals created a flurry of chances, their puck movement was clean and they put seven shots on goal. And Mike Green’s game-winning tally came on the power play in the third period.
“We can be better, I think. Wth the opportunities we’ve had we need to start at least creating more momentum for our team,” Green said. “I think a lot of times we lose the wind in our sail when we get a power play. But obviously we’re scoring them at the right time.”
The Capitals did a good job on their first power play of Game 4, which came less than three minutes into the contest. They peppered New York netminder Henrik Lundqvist with shots in rapid succession from various angles.
A redirection attempt by Alex Ovechkin backdoor required Lundqvist to make the save of the series. On a series a few moments later, Alexander Semin fired from point-blank range, Nicklas Backstrom shot a wrister from the circle and then Green blasted one from the point in a span of nine seconds.
“Well, we’re trying to get pucks to the net more than usual,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “And I thought tonight, we only had two, but we worked it around, had some good scoring chances on it.”
When the Capitals zip the puck around the offensive zone, beat their opponents to rebounds for more chances and keep steady pressure on penalty killers is when the players say the unit is at its best.
“I think we want to bring the tempo up, make the passes a little quicker a little crisper,” Brooks Laich said earlier in the series. “Our power play, when it seems to score we watch the video and it goes bing, bang, boom; around, shot, attack and it looks very sharp and crisp. When we’re not scoring sometimes we’re drifting a little bit. Make a pass, drift a little bit instead of making a pass stopping and staying in your exact position.”