Power play fails Caps in set­back

Baltimore Sun - - ORIOLES - By Is­abelle Khur­shudyan is­abelle.khur­shudyan@wash­post.com twit­ter.com/ikhur­shudyan

WASH­ING­TON — The Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals had their op­por­tu­nity with seven min­utes re­main­ing. All three goals had been scored on the power play, and with Wash­ing­ton down a goal and about to have a man-ad­van­tage, the crowd­cheeredin recog­ni­tion of the mo­ment. But Alex Ovechkin’s shot missed, Matt Niska­nen’s was saved and then T.J. Oshie’s went wide, too. ACap­i­tals power play in the last minute went just as poorly.

On a night when spe­cial teams and goal­tend­ing owned the spot­light, the Cap­i­tals’ top-ranked power play wa­sup­staged bythe Colum­busBlueJack­ets’ unit in a 2-1 loss at Cap­i­tal One Arena. Goal­tender Sergei Bo­brovsky was the best player on the ice with 33 saves, and Wash­ing­ton’s leaky penalty kill al­lowed two goals on three Colum­bus power plays.

“Right now, we just can’t seem to kill a penalty,” de­fense­man Matt Niska­nen said. “In a tight game, that hurts.”

What had been an even match in all facets of the game tipped in Colum­bus’s fa­vor when de­fense­man Dmitry Orlov was called for rough­ing 4:04 into the third pe­riod with the game tied. Niska­nen’s stick broke, and a puck played off the end boards landed on the stick of An­thony Du­clair be­side the net. With Niska­nen un­able to ob­struct him, Du­clair scored from the tight an­gle, his goal hold­ing up for the bal­ance of the game. Du­clair’s was the Blue Jack­ets’ sec­ond power-play goal; Colum­bus en­tered the game with the league’s worst power play, scor­ing just 11.9 per­cent of the time. Wash­ing­ton has al­lowed four power-play goals in the past three games.

“It seems like we’re giv­ing up a goal or two al­most ev­ery game,” cen­ter Lars Eller said.

“We have taken a lit­tle bit more of an ag­gres­sive ap­proach,” Niska­nen said. “We’ve dis­rupted a lot of plays up ice. On en­tries, I think we’re do­ing a good job there. We’re not spend­ing a ton of time in-zone. It’s the bro­ken plays that are turn­ing into a re­ally good chance and then just bury­ing us. Whenit’s kind of a 50-50 puck, a bat­tle in the cor­ner, you’re dow­na­man, so some­body’s open, but we’ve just got to bear down and be harder on it. If you can’t get it all the way down­the ice, then maybe you’ve just got to eat a few more and con­tinue to bat­tle and wait for help. But it seems like the bro­ken plays are get­ting us right now, not the tic-tac-toe.”

As coach Todd Reirden has opted to make very few changes to the team’s struc­ture, the Cap­i­tals’ short­handed play is an area he over­hauled. Wash­ing­ton in­tro­duced new­per­son­nelthere, an­dit’s also had­to­play the first 15 games with­out for­ward Tom Wil­son, who’s serv­ing a 20-game sus­pen­sion for an il­le­gal check to the head and typ­i­cally logs a lot of short­handed min­utes. Sun­day, 5 p.m. TV: NBCSWA Ra­dio: 106.7 FM

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