Cap­i­tals seek to chan­nel road suc­cess at home in Game 4.

Cap­i­tals seek to repli­cate road suc­cess at home in Game 4

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY MATTHEW PARAS

From the left side of the face­off cir­cle, there was Light­ning cen­ter Steven Stamkos, drift­ing around — ready to un­leash the fury of his one­timer. On the right side was Nikita Kucherov, armed with just as an ex­plo­sive of a shot.

When the Cap­i­tals are on the penalty kill, they face a true “pick your poi­son” type sce­nario.

Though the Light­ning had suc­cess with their power play ear­lier in the se­ries, it was overly pro­nounced in the Cap­i­tals’ 4-2 loss in Game 3. Stamkos and Kucherov each scored — blast­ing home one-timers that made for daz­zling high­lights.

Cer­tainly, stop­ping the power play will be a pri­or­ity for the Cap­i­tals be­fore Thurs­day’s Game 4.

But that’s not the only con­cern. For the first time since Game 5 of the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins se­ries, the Cap­i­tals failed to score the game’s first goal. They also had to chase the ma­jor­ity of the con­test, some­thing the Cap­i­tals have rarely had to do in the play­offs.

Tampa, too, had a better out­come

at even strength, where they had scored just one goal prior to Game 3.

De­spite the ad­just­ments from Tampa, the Cap­i­tals are stay­ing calm, still up 2-1 in the se­ries.

“It’s a process,” coach Barry Trotz said. “If any­body thought Tampa Bay was go­ing to get swept by the Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals, or vice versa, I don’t think any­body would say that. This is the play­offs ... we’re in a good spot.”

Trotz said the Cap­i­tals needed a better in­vest­ment after not match­ing the des­per­a­tion of the Light­ning, adding some of his play­ers weren’t play­ing up to their usual stan­dards.

As for the penalty kill, there’s a sim­ple so­lu­tion for the Cap­i­tals: stay out of the box.

Wash­ing­ton al­lowed six mi­nor penal­ties — three on Lars Eller alone — and five of them re­sulted in a Tampa power play, where the Light­ning scored twice.

“It’s ob­vi­ously un­ac­cept­able to let in that many PP goals against our unit,” cen­ter Jay Bea­gle said. “It’s ob­vi­ously huge to get a kill, it’s a mo­men­tum boost. We have to make sure we don’t ac­cept it and strive to be better.”

The Light­ning took away the cen­ter of the ice, com­mit­ting to the forecheck. As a re­sult, Wash­ing­ton played loose with the puck, cough­ing up turnovers and fail­ing to gen­er­ate odd man rushes.

In gen­eral, Wash­ing­ton didn’t look like the same team that stole Games 1 and 2 in Tampa.

“We didn’t play as fast as we did the first cou­ple of games,” de­fense­man Brooks Or­pik said. “The rea­son for that is we were try­ing to force pucks through the mid­dle. That was partly on us, but I think they forced us into some un­com­fort­able sit­u­a­tions.”

So the ques­tion be­comes: how do the Cap­i­tals repli­cate their suc­cess on the road and carry it over to Cap­i­tal One Arena? This post­sea­son, Wash­ing­ton is 7-1 on the road ver­sus 3-4 at home.

Trotz ac­knowl­edged they carry an “us against the world” edge in other are­nas.

“We’re the team that lost,” Trotz said. “We’ve got to be des­per­ate.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

“We didn’t play as fast as we did the first cou­ple of games,” Cap­i­tals de­fense­man Brooks Or­pik said of the Game 3 loss to the Light­ning on Tues­day. “The rea­son for that is we were try­ing to force pucks through the mid­dle. That was partly on us, but I think they forced us into some un­com­fort­able sit­u­a­tions.”

After two road wins, Cap­i­tals fans saw Wash­ing­ton play loose with the puck, cough up turnovers and fail to gen­er­ate odd man rushes at home in Game 3.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals for­ward Tom Wilson lies on the ice after a hit by Tampa Bay Light­ning de­fense­man An­ton Stral­man in Game 3 on Tues­day. The Light­ning took away the cen­ter of the ice, com­mit­ting to the forecheck against the Cap­i­tals.

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