NEW YORK -- Heading into Game 7 Monday night in Washington, the New York Rangers have scored twice on 26 power-play opportunities. That 7.7 percent rate is only higher than the Minnesota Wild, who went 0-for-17 in their opening-round series loss against the Chicago Blackhawks.
New York went 0-for-5 Sunday afternoon against the Washington Capitals, exposing a glaring flaw. But those 10 penalty minutes, coupled with the Capitals’ inability to draw a single penalty in Game 6, stifled Washington's attack and played a large role in New York's 1-0 series-evening victory in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series at Madison Square Garden.
"[Penalties] killed our momentum. I thought we were really good in the first until we started taking penalties and spent half the first period killing them off and letting them get momentum and letting their building get excited," forward Troy Brouwer said. "Then they came out and scored the goal in the second period and we took more penalties. We deserved some, we didn't deserve some. I can't believe that they didn't get a penalty tonight. It seems a little outlandish, but that's how it goes."
The main issue for Washington in Game 6 was a glaring lack of discipline. Two of their five penalties in Game 6 were retaliatory calls on defensemen Jack Hillen and Mike Green. Both came with the Capitals looking to mount pressure on New York and made it exceedingly difficult for the Capitals to mount a consistent attack.
"We had two undisciplined ones, retaliatory penalties. That's four minutes in the box," forward Matt Hendricks said. "The other ones are iffy calls. They can go either way. We killed them off, but at the same time they were able to keep momentum because of it."
It's not the first time penalties have cost Washington in this series. In Game 3, New York had six man advantages compared to three for Washington. While the Capitals failed to score on the power play, the Rangers notched one goal with the man advantage and came within a second of scoring another, as Brian Boyle's goal came just as Joel Ward's high-sticking call expired.
For the series, New York has enjoyed 26 power plays -- the most of any playoff team -- compared to 14 in six games for Washington, the fewest per game of any club this postseason.
But penalties were more of a point of contention for the Capitals and Game 6, particularly Green's cross-checking call with 6:14 remaining in regulation and the Rangers up 1-0. The cross-check came after Derek Dorsett took Green hard into the boards on a play that didn't sit well with the Capitals’ coach.
"That play to me is the one that does concern me. It looks like a slew foot to me. Obviously, that's why Mike reacted," Oates said of the play. "Mike is not that type of player. You watch it and to me it looks like a slew foot. I realize Green is one of the guys they want to target. But that's a very dangerous play."