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“You see when there’s a moment to jump, one guy will go, but the other guys are a little bit tentative on their reads,” Brouwer said. “You got to trust your players that are out on the ice with you. Just jump, and if one guy goes, everyone goes.

“The other thing, too, is with the clears sometimes you don’t have a whole lot of time to get it out, so you’re just swinging and hoping. But a lot of the time, you’ve got a half-second to get your head up and you got to be able to make a full ice clear.”

Sometimes it is just bad luck, like when defenseman Karl Alzner’s stick broke Sunday, allowing Penguins star Evgeni Malkin ample time to find a passing lane for a layup goal by Chris Kunitz.

But bad luck can’t be an excuse on the power play. The speed of puck movement has been criticized, and justly so, even though Oates doesn’t believe the problem is too much passing.

“I’d like to establish the shot from Mike [Green] sooner, if we could, because if he can get the puck to the net, we have good rebound positions and it’ll make them feel pressure that they’re getting beat and maybe we can capitalize on a mistake from that,” the coach said.

“You watch Pittsburgh: They’ve got five guys out there that want the puck and there’s only one puck. When it comes to the power play, you kind of have to have a set of rules. To me, we put the puck in Nick’s hands and he’s going to be the first guy that has to make the decision.”

Backstrom, who quarterbacks the first power-play unit, said more shots would be preferable.

“Traffic in front of the net, probably move the puck a little bit quicker,” he said. “That’s what I think.”

With games being called tighter and more time being spent on special teams, the Caps know they need to tighten up in both areas.

“Nowadays, that’s the thing that wins you games,” Brouwer said. “And that’s the thing that wins you games in the playoffs, which is more important.”