When Brad Richards made his way to the penalty box for slashing Alex Ovechkin with 1 minute 54 seconds remaining in regulation of Game 3, the Capitals couldn’t have asked for a better opportunity. What better way to try and tie the contest than with the power play that ranked atop the NHL in the regular season?
But the Capitals wouldn’t cash in on the power play and failed to even put a shot on goal during what was largely a six-on-four after they pulled Braden Holtby for an extra attacker. New York’s penalty kill was at its smothering best, clogging up shooting lanes and removing options.
“We just couldn’t find the opening. They were so tight, and obviously we knew they were committed to blocking shots and we were trying to find a hole and couldn’t find it. We’ll learn from it, though,” Mike Green said. “It wasn’t going to be a cute goal, it was going to be throw it on net and bang it in. We were on the perimeter.”
For as much as the Rangers limited possibilities, the Capitals know they spent too much time searching for the perfect shot rather than making what they could out of the little space they had. Of the three shots Washington attempted one missed the net (Troy Brouwer) and two (both by Nicklas Backstrom) were blocked.
“We probably just could’ve tried to figure out a better way to get to the net,” Coach Adam Oates said. “Just to start the process of now they’ve got to recover, maybe there’s a rebound, second wave. Probably a little too cute with it.”
Said Backstrom: “We would like to score there. Anyone would like to score there. We’ve got to execute there and make sure we get some shots through at least. We’ve got to do a better job….They played it pretty good. They were blocking shots, but still got to get shots through.”
Oates acknowledged that given the skill level on the Capitals’ top power-play unit, players tend to be “perfectionists, they just don’t want to throw it at the net.” In a late-game situation like the advantage Washington had Monday night, though, the necessary play is unlikely to be a perfect one.
“It’s situation when you have to maybe like find the shooting lane and shoot it, find a rebound and make a play. But it’s not gonna beautiful goal,” Alex Ovechkin said. “We’ll take it, we’ll use it and watch the video tomorrow and regroup and be ready.”