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Caps struggle to diagnose the problem with the penalty kill

Caps struggle to diagnose the problem with the penalty kill

With a 14-2-1 record in their last 17 games, everything has been going right for the Capitals lately.

Well, almost everything.

A Washington team that boasts the best defense in the NHL is suddenly struggling on the penalty kill. Coming into Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins, the Caps had allowed one power play goal in each of their last five games. On Wednesday, the penalty kill was victimized again and it nearly cost them the game.

Washington jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period against the Bruins and looked well on their way to another big win. Just when it looked like the Caps were going to finish them off, however, Washington gave Boston some life with a penalty late in the first period and early in the second.

Brad Marchand scored on each to tie the game at 2. Washington managed only one successful kill on the night in the three power plays the team faced.

RELATED: Trotz provides an update on Justin Williams

Why has the penalty kill been a problem of late? No one can really put their finger on it.

“I don't know,” Matt Niskanen said. “It's been all different types of goals. It's not like there's one thing that's biting us. Record's been decent in spite of that, but definitely our penalty kill's going to have to do better in the future.”

“It's just some mistakes I think maybe that we don't usually make,” T.J. Oshie said. “I think our penalty kill, our four front guys and the guys in the back end do a really good job. Tonight, they just beat us on a couple plays. Something we'll clean up. Some of those things we usually don't let them get to those points.”

The problem is when there’s not one thing wrong, it makes it that much harder to fix.

Head coach Barry Trotz agreed with his players’ assessment after the game, saying the two power play goals the team allowed to Boston came on two very different plays.

“The first one we did a really good job and then we made a real bad change,” Trotz said. “We didn’t get the puck down the ice, it was sort of a real short regroup on their part and we made a bad change. ... The second one, they had a lot of zone time, hit us with a couple seems and we weren't able to get a handle on it.”

One issue could be Jay Beagle’s roll of late.

Beagle played on the second line Wednesday in place of Justin Williams who was a late scratch. He played on the top line in place of T.J. Oshie in New Jersey last week prior to the All-Star break.

Beagle, who Trotz called his “Mr. Fix It” is also one of the team’s top penalty killers. Playing him in the top six means more minutes at even strength would ultimately means fewer minutes on the penalty kill. Trotz also told reporters that he does not think Beagle has fully recovered from the flu which forced him to miss last week’s game against the Ottawa Senators.

Could the penalty kill struggles just be boiled down to Beagle not being 100 percent? If that’s the case, the team better hope he doesn’t dog it in the postseason.

MORE CAPITALS: Oshie accuses Trotz of embellishment after near collision after warmups

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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)