Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Power Play Yet to Click in Tight Semifinal Series

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Power Play Yet to Click in Tight Semifinal Series

Article excerpt

There are plenty of reasons the Penguins have a 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against Washington.

A productive power play is nowhere on the list.

Not even at the very bottom.

That's because the Penguins, who converted eight of 21 chances with the extra man in the opening round against the New York Rangers, are 0 for 14 against the Capitals.

This is just the second time in franchise history the Penguins have failed to score a power-play goal in the first four games of a series.

It also happened in 2013 during the Eastern Conference final against Boston, when the Bruins swept them.

The Penguins generated a total of two goals in that series, so a sputtering power play hardly was their only issue then.

They obviously have fared better against Washington, but the fact that all four games have been decided by one goal should not be overlooked because it means special-teams productivity could be a pivotal variable for the balance of the series.

"These games are so tight that a goal or two here or there matters," Penguins right winger Phil Kessel said.

The Penguins' inability to capitalize on their power plays has been less of a problem than it otherwise might have been because Washington has been only slightly better, scoring once in 12 tries.

When Washington coach Barry Trotz was asked about the power play's struggles after the Penguins' 3-2 overtime victory in Game 4 Wednesday, he responded, "Theirs or ours?"

Trotz's penalty-killers employ an aggressive style and have been exceptional thus far during the 2016 playoffs, allowing one goal in 38 short-handed situations.

They block shots and have an outstanding goaltender, Braden Holtby, who doesn't give up many dangerous rebounds.

And when he does, his defensemen usually are there to keep opponents from taking advantage. …

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