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Caps looking special on power play, penalty kill

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Caps looking special on power play, penalty kill

In the NHL the formula for success is pretty simple. On most nights, if you win the special teams battles you win the war.

Saturday night against the Carolina Hurricanes the Capitals won all three.

“They were 2-for-2 and we had a 5-on-3 and didn’t score,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said after the Caps’ 4-1 win at Verizon Center pushed them to 3-1-0 while dropping the Canes to 1-4-0.

“You know how it is, very rare do you win a hockey game when you have a 5-on-3 and don’t score. They were 2-for-2; we were 0-for-4.”

The Capitals’ two power-play goals came in two varieties. On the first, Nicklas Backstrom positioned himself on the right halfwall and slid T.J. Oshie a pass in the low slot (the Caps call it the diamond) and Oshie one-timed a blast past Cam Ward for his second power-play goal in as many games.

“It’s nice to have him there,” Backstrom said, “He’s got a great shot and the last two games we’ve seen it. If you compare him to (Troy) Brouwer I think he can make plays and he’s more comfortable with the puck. Obviously, he can shoot it and that’s awesome.”

RELATED: Holtby gets a taste of 'Gump' hockey

On the Caps’ second power-play goal, Backstrom fed John Carlson at the point and the defenseman snapped a shot through screens provided by Oshie and Johansson for his second goal of the season and first on the power play. Carlson has five points in his first four games.

The Caps’ power play has scored on five of 13 advantages in the first four games, ranking third in the NHL at 38.5 percent. But coach Barry Trotz said his team’s success on the man advantage is more than just its personnel.

“It’s not as static as it was,” he said. “We have a lot more movement, which is great. The big key on that power play is retrievals. We had a long extended one where we retrieved a lot of pucks after second chances and when you get those penalty killers tired and holes start opening up, those guys are going to finish.”

On the flip side, the Caps were a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty kill Saturday night and are now 11-for-13 for the season (84.6 percent). Against Carolina defensemen Brooks Orpik (3:33), Matt Niskanen (3:08), Karl Alzner (3:08) and John Carlson (3:02) did most of the heavy lifting on the back end, while T.J. Oshie 2:31, Brooks Laich (2:23), Jason Chimera (2:24) and Justin Williams (2:17) chipped in up front.

The turning point of the night came in the second period when the Caps killed off a 5-on-3 that lasted 38 seconds with the Caps leading 1-0.

“It’s huge,” Trotz said. “There are always times in a game where defensively you have to turn it back in your favor and the guys did a good job all night.

“There was good structure. We’ve got a lot of new people and we have to start with Backy on the draws there. He’s so smart. Guys had good commitment, going down and blocking a shot when it was needed. It was huge.”

And so, after a 3-1-0 homestand to start the season, the Capitals will take their show on the road this week when they visit Calgary on Tuesday, Vancouver on Thursday and Edmonton on Friday, all on CSN. With four games in the book, Trotz offered this assessment on his team:

“I thought we were a little rusty in Game 1 (5-3 win over New Jersey). Game 2 (5-0 loss to San Jose) I didn’t like our game at all; we weren’t up to NHL pace. I loved our response against the Blackhawks (4-1 win) and I thought our response today (4-1 win over Carolina) was good.

“Our first periods, which is something we weren’t strong at last year, have been good. We’re 3-1 going on the road and the biggest positive is we know how important it is to get in the race and stay in the race. We’re finding out a lot about our team.

“When we have a lead I think we’re managing the game way better than at this point last year. Last year we were pretty nervous on the bench most nights early the year and then that sort of went away as the season went along. There’s a calmness on our bench right now, which is good.”

MORE CAPITALS: Backstrom looks like he's in mid-season form

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How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

Things did not look good for the Capitals after two games.

Facing a 0-2 series hole after losing both games in Washington, it looked like it could be an early summer. The Caps were going to be the first team to ever lose a series in the playoffs to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

HOW DID THE CAPS WIN THEIR SERIES AGAINST COLUMBUS? FIND OUT HERE

But the Caps rallied.

Washington won the next four games and turned what looked like it would be another postseason disaster into a postseason triumph.

Only once in franchise history had the Caps rallied from a 0-2 deficit and only once had the Caps won four straight games to win a series. They managed both against the Blue Jackets.

Here's how the Caps were able to rally to a first-round victory over Columbus.

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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Capitals vs. Penguins schedule, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Capitals vs. Penguins schedule, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

The Capitals and Penguins face off in the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference semifinals, marking the third consecutive season the two Metro Division rivals have met in the playoffs.

The Capitals have beaten the Penguins in a playoff series just once in ten attempts dating back to 1991, and all five of the Penguins' Stanley Cup Championships included series wins over Washington.

The Capitals and Penguins split the regular-season series 2-2, with both teams picking up wins at home and on the road. The Capitals outscored the Penguins 13-12 over the course of the four regular-season games. 

The Capitals vs. Penguins 2018 NHL Playoff series will begin on Thursday, April 24 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. E.T.

Pregame coverage of the Capitals vs. Penguins on NBC Sports Washington begins an hour before puck-drop with Caps FaceOff, followed by Caps GameTime.

Caps Extra follows each playoff game with Caps OverTime after that. 

Stream Pre- and postgame coverage of Capitals vs. Penguins Game 1 on NBC Sports Washington.

Game 2 information has yet to be released.

CAPITALS vs. PENGUINS 2018 NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 1: Penguins at Capitals
Date: Thursday, April 26
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBC Sports Network (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 2: Penguins at Capitals
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: TBD (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 3: Capitals at Penguins
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Penn.
TV Channel: TBD (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 4: Capitals at Penguins
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Penn.
TV Channel: TBD (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 5 (If Necessary): Penguins at Capitals
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBC (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 6 (If Necessary): Capitals at Penguins
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, Penn.
TV Channel: TBD (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)

Game 7 (If necessary): Penguins at Capitals
Date: TBD
Time: TBD
Location: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: TBD (Channel Finder)
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (1500 AM)