The Capitals’ vaunted power play is lost. For now.
That is not something that happens often. Maybe once or twice a season this collection of top-end talent goes through a cold stretch. This one has felt different.
Washington went 0-for-3 in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars on Friday night, including two missed opportunities in the third period when it could have taken the lead. Instead, those chances went by the wayside.
This has become a concern. The Caps are now 1-for-27 on the power play since Dec. 15. That’s a staggering drought over nine games for a team with this much talent.
“It was a better power play than in the past, but at the same time it’s a 1-1 game and we had two chances there in the last 10 minutes,” center Nicklas Backstrom told reporters in Dallas after the latest loss.
There were some signs of life, especially on those late two power plays at 9:34 and 15:34 of the third period. The Caps finished with eight shots on goal with the man advantage. That’s good. But they couldn’t convert. That’s bad.
The day before against St. Louis, Washington managed just three shots on the power play in three chances. Against Nashville on Monday it had two shots on one power-play opportunity. The power play has looked disjointed with zone entries an issue even in games they won in December against Ottawa and Buffalo and Carolina.
This is not unprecedented even if it’s frustrating. The Caps’ most recent 1-for-27 skid on the power play was a span of 11 games between Dec. 17, 2016 and Jan. 9, 2017. Even last year they had a 1-for-25 skid over 11 games (Dec. 6-28, 2017) and 1-for-23 over eight games (Oct. 21-Nov. 10). That’s in a span of three months.
Still – it isn’t fun and an 0-2-1 week has seen their lead in the Metropolitan Division evaporate. The red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins are now tied for first place with Washington (52 points). The power play has dropped to 10th in the NHL at 22.1 percent. The Caps expect to be better.
“You’ve got to win these games in regulation and you’ve got to take advantage of that and capitalize on our chances,” Backstrom said. “But it’s a work in progress. You’re not going to win every game. Even if we lost today we played better if we compare to the last three.”
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