Home woes

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - BASEBALL - Mphillips@timesdis­patch.com (804) 649-6546 @michaelpRTD

WASH­ING­TON — The Cap­i­tals have two things go­ing right for them at the mo­ment: They are still up 2-1 in their series with the Tampa Bay Light­ning, and they do not have home-ice ad­van­tage.

The play­off woes of D.C.’s big four sports teams are well-doc­u­mented — this series is the first con­fer­ence fi­nal since 1998, and the town hasn’t had a ti­tle win­ner since 1991.

Within that streak, though, is an in­ex­pli­ca­bly bad record in front of home crowds.

The Cap­i­tals are now 38-40 in the post­sea­son at Cap­i­tal One Arena, the Wizards marginally bet­ter at 17-15. The Red­skins are 1-2 in post­sea­son games at FedEx Field, but have strug­gled in all sea­sons, hold­ing the Trotz

NFL’s third­worst home record in a home sta­dium.

The Na­tion­als de­serve more than a sen­tence, but suf­fice it to say their 3-8 post­sea­son mark at home is the stuff of Hal­loween sto­ries.

“Just play the way we do on the road,” Cap­i­tals coach Barry Trotz of­fered af­ter Tues­day’s Game 3 loss. “Just pre­tend like you’re on the road.”

Trotz may have to look into ho­tels near the arena, or per­haps char­ter a flight from Dulles to Na­tional. Home play­off records of pro­fes­sional Wash­ing­ton teams at cur­rent venues Team W Cap­i­tals 38 Wizards 17 Red­skins 1 Na­tion­als 3 L 40 15 2 8

Across the NHL in the last decade, the home team is 477-392 in play­off ac­tion. The Caps have flipped the script — they’ve won eight of their last nine on the road, and four of their last 11 at home.

There’s no need to wait for the au­topsy to come back on Tues­day’s game — the Cap­i­tals took six penal­ties and al­lowed two power-play goals, holes that are tough for any team to es­cape.

But the home-road splits are baf­fling for a fran­chise that has pro­duced qual­ity squads for the last decade.

The home crowd didn’t seem to be the rea­son Tues­day — the en­ergy level was high from the be­gin­ning and fans turned their en­thu­si­asm back up af­ter a sec­ond-pe­riod goal, but ul­ti­mately a three-goal deficit only pro­vides so much to work with.

The Cap­i­tals can still get a stran­gle­hold on the series with a Game 4 vic­tory on Thurs­day. If not, they’ll at least be com­forted by the no­tion that Game 5 is in Tampa.

And if it comes back to D.C. for Game 6? Maybe pe­ti­tion the league for a change of venue — the Caps are 2-0 when play­ing out­doors in the Wash­ing­ton area.

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