It was just one loss, and it came on the road against an opponent desperate to climb back into the playoff hunt. Over the course of 82 games, it happens, even to the NHL’s best team.
But there’s one trend emerging that might bear watching: the Caps’ previously impenetrable penalty kill is suddenly allowing goals.
And it allowed one again in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss to the Islanders at Barclays Center.
With Matt Niskanen in the box for interference, Andrew Ladd’s shot rang off the crossbar, freezing everyone on the ice. Except, of course, Alan Quine, who snapped a short-angle shot past Philipp Grubauer.
“On the p.k. goal, everyone though the first one went in, so they stopped,” winger Daniel Winnik said. “It was just unfortunate.”
It was a fluky goal, to be sure. But the numbers are the numbers.
And right now they aren’t all that flattering for a penalty kill unit that entered the game ranked fourth overall at 85.1-percent.
Including Quine’s marker, the Caps have permitted a power play goal in five consecutive games (for the first time since Oct. 2014) and in six of the past seven contests.
In the previous 14 games combined, Washington’s unit allowed a total of five power play goals while skating a whopping 47 times shorthanded (for a second best 89.4-percent effectiveness rate during that stretch).
The Caps get back at it Wednesday against Boston, which is coming off a 4-3 win in Tampa on Tuesday night. The Bruins scored on the power play in that game, boosting their total 10 power play goals over the past 10 contests.
No team has scored more goals on the man advantage during that span.
So, yeah, Wednesday night would be a good time for the Caps’ penalty kill to begin resembling the one that dominated the NHL in November and December.
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