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It would be tough for the penalty kill to elevate its game any more than it already has. Its No. 27 ranking during the regular season was more evidence of a poor start than it was a show of weakness.

“We’re not looking at 27th,” right wing Eric Fehr said. “I think if you look at the last 20 games of the season, we were right up there in the league in the penalty kill. We changed a few things, and we’ve been a lot better since then. We expect a lot of big things from our PK.”

In each of the first two games, the penalty kill has been crucial in turning the tide. Brouwer and defenseman Steve Oleksy spent a few nervous minutes in the box Saturday, but their teammates were in control the whole time.

It wasn’t like this early in the season, when opposing power plays scored at will. The Caps allowed 15 power-play in their first 11 games but have surrendered just 20 in the past 39.

“It was obviously a new system of killing [under Oates],” center Jay Beagle said. “Whenever you’re changing over, it takes a little bit of time. I think that’s what it was at the beginning. Just like our five-on-five, it took a little bit to get used to and become natural, and now it’s natural.”

Killing off 93.3 percent of penalties dating to April 13 is more than natural — it’s spectacular. Oates said it’s a matter of his players making better reads.

But that’s five-on-five and on the power play, too. The Caps have been better at just about everything through two games against the Rangers.

“You have to trust everyone on your team,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “It was a feeling out process. Guys kept having faith in each other, and that’s why we’re at where we are right now.”