The Caps' 4-1 win over Boston on Thursday was a rebound win in many ways, but not in terms of the power play. The special teams unit that used to make the Caps such a dangerous offensive team has struggled of late and continued to do so on Thursday.
The Capitals entered the game against Boston on a power play drought after failing to score on their last nine power plays. That streak extended to 10 after the Bruins were able to kill off Torey Krug's first period penalty.
"It was getting frustrating and it was getting tense because the power play's used to having success," Barry Trotz said.
The Caps did finally snap their drought in the second period, but it came on a two-man advantage against a Boston team ranked 30th in the NHL in the penalty kill. For the game, the Caps managed only one power play goal in four opportunities and failed to score on any of their 5-on-4 opportunities against the league's worst penalty kill.
"We've got the same guys on there," Carlson said. "The success has been there, it's not for a lack of want."
"The power play's been getting lots of chances, but in the end you want the goals," Trotz said.
It doesn't take long to figure out just where power play unit has been lacking.
Despite having seven goals already in the 2015-16 campaign, Alex Ovechkin does not have a single goal on the power play. His shot from the left faceoff circle has been lethal for years, but the team has struggled to get him the puck in a position where he can unleash his deadly one-timer.
Part of this may be due to the departure of power play fixture Mike Green in the offseason. Besides Nicklas Backstrom, nobody seems to feed Ovechkin as well as Green did.
Part of it also may be due to teams adjusting to the Caps' setup.
"When you've got some of the premiere players in the league, teams are going to really really scout and not take any chances," Carlson said. "People are smart these days. There's things you can do. For us, we've just got to do a better job countering that."
In professional leagues, teams never manage to stay ahead of the curve for very long. Eventually, everyone starts to catch up.
Still, there's no sense of panic in the locker room. Whatever frustration the team felt about the team's power play drought was gone after the goal two-man advantage.
"We wanted to get a little jump back on the power play and get a little mojo and see pucks go in," Carlson said. "I think that was big. That was big for the game, that was big for us moving forward."
Even though the goal now gives the Caps one goal in their last 13 opportunities and did not address the team's struggles on the 5-on-4 advantage, the overwhelming feeling amongst the team is that the goals are coming, it's just a matter of patience.
Said Trotz, "There's too many good individuals on that power play and it's been a good power play for a long time so we're going to score."