- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 21, 2012

It’s a big enough problem for the Washington Capitals or any hockey team when the power play goes horribly bad. It’s even worse when the opposition has more offense short-handed and even scores a goal.

That’s what happened Friday night, as the Carolina Hurricanes crushed the Caps in every facet of special teams. It was the biggest reason coach Dale Hunter pointed to after the 3-0 shellacking.

“You can tell by the stats that special teams killed us. They scored two power-play goals and they scored short-handed,” Hunter said. “Special teams was the difference tonight that our power play gave up more chances than we got. We made bad decisions with the puck and it cost us.”

Jussi Jokinen’s short-handed goal was a killer for the Caps in the first period. John Carlson made one of those bad decisions with the puck by not protecting it and got it poked away by Carolina captain Eric Staal. It went right to Jokinen, who skated in all alone. Tomas Vokoun had no chance.

“The guys are too good. Sticks are too good,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “Tonight we had turnovers in the offensive zone, and the neutral zone, power play. It was just way too much.”

The Caps in total went 0-for-3 on the power play and turned in a minus effort on the night thanks to Jokinen’s goal.

“We were getting outworked on the power play. We were pathetic out there,” winger Troy Brouwer said. “And they were outworking us on our own power play and that’s why they scored a goal.”

The penalty kill struggled, too, as the Hurricanes ran into little resistance setting up and moving the puck around with the man advantage. They scored twice, including the exclamation point with 30 seconds left as Jiri Tlusty beat Dennis Wideman and then Vokoun.

But the power play failures were the bigger issue.

“We were just lazy,” Brouwer said. “We didn’t get to loose pucks. We didn’t get open for guys. We made ill-advised plays, tough plays that we haven’t been making and that’s why we’ve been successful as of late on the power play.

“Tonight, we got outworked. We tried to make cut, tough plays through the seams. I was a culprit of that once or twice tonight as well. We’re not pointing fingers at anybody. We’ve just got to collectively work harder and outwork the penalty kill.”

It didn’t happen Friday night.

“We were very sloppy, bad decisions and Tomas had to come up big,” Hunter said. “It became even hockey five-on-five but special teams is the difference tonight where our power play gave up a goal and they scored two.”