Thursday, October 22, 2009

Power Play Not Special in Atlanta

While overall the Capitals' effort was solid against Atlanta, the team's special teams almost cost them at least a point with another subpar effort with the man-advantage and penalty-killing, which led to three of the Thrashers' four goals - two coming in the third period as the hosts attempted a comeback.

Washington went 0-for-7 on the power-play, even allowing a Zach Bogosian shorthanded tally in the third period that gave the Thrashers new life late in the contest. Armed with a chance to put the game away with a 5-on-3, Mike Knuble was whistled for a penalty and the Capitals took two more minors in the final minute of the contest to allow a rare 6-on-3 power-play for the Thrashers for a majority of the final minute of the game. The penalty-killing went 6-for-8, but three of four of Atlanta's goals were on special teams.

The Capitals' power-play, which started off the season at a torrid pace, has continued to sputter, dropping to 19th in the league and 18.2 percent success rate, or 8-for-44 for the season and allowed their first short-handed tally of the season. The entire effort left Bruce Boudreau shaking his head afterwards, as he told reporters it was the worst effort he's seen by the Capitals' extra-man unit.

The penalty-killing unit allowed a pair of quick goals on Thursday as well, allowing Maxim Afinogenov free space in front of Semyon Varlamov after a face-off win and enough time to deke the netminder and beat him with a backhand in the first period. The third-period marker against was more the streak of bad penalties to finish the contest, as they allowed the Thrashers a rare three-man advantage which led to Ilya Kovalchuk's second goal of the night just as Mike Knuble made it a 6-on-4.

While the absence of Alexander Semin from the lineup certainly didn't help Washington's struggling power-play, the Caps certainly could have made their lives easier with even one extra-man marker down the stretch, and will look to improve as teams are willing to take penalties if Washington can't make them pay with the extra man.

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