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Power play's struggles cost Caps in Game 1

by Corey Masisak
WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals' power play scored a couple of few key goals against the New York Rangers in the opening round of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and some of their regular-season frustration with the man advantage appeared to be behind them.

But the power play's struggles returned in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals as the Capitals were shut out on five power-play opportunities by the Tampa Bay Lightning in Friday night's 4-2 loss.

"We didn't score goals, but I think we have chances," Alex Ovechkin said. "[Alexander Semin] hit the post in the first period. Again, power play is the key. They score a goal, Stamkos scored a goal, and I think we take too many bad penalties in the second period and it cost us the game."

While Tampa Bay's power play did indeed come up the with game's key goal – Steven Stamkos put Tampa Bay ahead 3-2 late in the second period -- Washington managed only five shots on net in 8:45 of time with the extra man.  The Capitals also yielded five shots against goaltender Michal Neuvirth while up a man as breakdowns led to shorthanded chances at the other end.

"I think our puck movement has to be better," forward Brooks Laich said. "We have to take more looks at the net, more shots at the net. I've got to be better on the power play -- winning battles and not turning pucks over. I thought our entries were OK, but we've got to put some pressure on their penalty-killers.

"There's a couple times where we had looks and didn't shoot the puck and there were times when we shot pucks into shin pads and it cleared them out of the zone. I think we're making it too easy on them."

Washington had two chances on the power play in the third period after falling behind 3-2, but the Capitals were unable to create much of anything. The possession time in the offensive zone was there, but Tampa Bay goaltender Dwayne Roloson had little work as the Lightning kept the Caps to the outside and prevented them from generating much in the way of good scoring chances.

Paying attention to detail became a problem as the frustration mounted for the Capitals, and the anxious Verizon Center crowd shifted from nervous to upset -- and boos came when the equalizing goal didn't during the final power play. Washington also went offsides three times, including two on back-to-back attempts to get into the Tampa Bay zone.

"I think we didn't have anything good going tonight," center Nicklas Backstrom said. "I think we have to get better on it -- talk about it, watch some videos and do something else that works."

Added coach Bruce Boudreau: "I think we need to do a better job. I don't think we were getting to any loose pucks and we weren't shooting the puck. We're talking about getting the pucks to the net and crash the net and simplify the game. ... I think we need to shoot more."

Washington's best chances on the power play came early in this game. Semin snapped a shot from near the left circle off the post and there were a couple of near-misses.

But the common theme after the game was pretty clear -- give Roloson more work.

"We just got to find a way to get pucks to the net," forward Eric Fehr said. "They were fronting our guys and we weren't getting good looks. We kept passing on the outside and we weren't putting pucks on the net."
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