In theory, the Washington Capitals' third-ranked power-play should have victimized the New York Islanders' woeful, league-worst penalty-killing unit on Tuesday, but that was far from what transpired.
The Capitals finished their 1-0 loss 0-for-6 with the man advantage despite having more than 10 minutes with which to work. That inefficiency had less to do with what the Islanders did to thwart the Capitals and more to do with the Capitals beating themselves.
Errant passes, poor puck management and several whiffs -- particularly on an early second-period chance that saw Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer fan on chances from their customary positions on the left circle and in the slot, respectively -- epitomized Washington's frustration.
Following that aforementioned power play, the Islanders arguably had the better scoring chances shorthanded; Cal Clutterbuck rang a wrist shot off the goalpost on a 2-on-1 rush midway through the second period, and Michael Grabner turned a Washington neutral-zone turnover into an ultimately unsuccessful penalty shot.
In all, New York finished with five shorthanded shots, just two fewer than Washington finished with on the power play. The Capitals had two chances to tie the game on the power play in the third period, but mustered just two shots.
“A lot of turnovers — especially [on] the last couple,” coach Adam Oates said of the power play. “We had a couple chances early, and then we got away from some of the simple plays, simple reads.”
Even more vexing was the Capitals' propensity to wipe out power-play opportunities with penalties of their own. On two separate occasions, Washington negated power plays by committing interference penalties; Joel Ward wiped out an unsuccessful chance as did Brouwer, who ended what could have been a pivotal power play late in the second period after 31 seconds. (Ward and Brouwer rank second and third, respectively, on the Capitals in regards to the number of penalties they take per 60 minutes on the power play.)
"Dumb ones are tough to take and from responsible guys. They know better," coach Adam Oates said. "The second one on Brouw, that's a tough call and we still on a day-to-day basis can't quite figure that out, the second one. Wardo's for sure. ... Mistakes, they hurt you. They always do."
There is an inherent risk to living and dying on the power play as the Capitals do, but then again, the team's entire effort was lacking on Tuesday.
"We didn't execute there on the power play," Nicklas Backstrom said. "But obviously I think we didn't play as good 5-on-5 as we would like to either. It's both ways."
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