- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 16, 2017

Two of the Washington Capitals’ three goals from Saturday’s 4-3 loss in double overtime to the Toronto Maple Leafs came on the power play. The Capitals had plenty of chances at both full strength and the power play, but so far against Toronto, they’ve had most of their success a man up.

Furthermore, in both games, the Capitals needed a power play to spark the offense since they had often trailed.

With the series now tied 1-1, the question going forward is if the Capitals can convert their chances without needing Toronto to commit a penalty first.

“I think if you look at scoring in the playoffs, it goes down for a reason,” defenseman John Carlson said. “Everyone is making it harder on the the other team and that’s just the name of the game. We do have to be better when we get those chances.”

Of the Capitals six goals in the series, three have come on the power play.

Carlson said that Washington has generated tons of chances to score. The Capitals finished with 50 shots on goal Saturday, seven on the power play.

“Like I said, things tighten up,” Carlson said. “People are all out blitz, trying to block shots, keep it out of the net.”

Carlson had one of the two power play goals in Saturday’s game when he scored 11:06 into the second period. Washington star Alex Ovechkin had the other one, converting on a wide open shot near the start of the period at 3:47.

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said that his team needs to shoot more pucks in play. He pointed to his team passing up shots in the middle and instead dumping it off to the sides.

“This is playoffs. You’ve got create some of those second [chances] and wear people down,” Trotz said. “You’ve got to wear the goalie down. We’ve thrown over 100 shots at the goalie, but at the same time, you want to keep him active the whole time.”

The Capitals finished the regular season ranked third in power play percentage at 23.1. So far in the playoffs, Washington’s power play percentage is at 37.5 percent.

“They bring exactly what we need them to bring: big timely goals,” Capitals center Lars Eller said.

Washington, though, has needed timely goals to bail them out. The Capitals admitted to nerves in Game 1, leading to a 2-0 first-period deficit in the opener, and even when it appeared that they came out with more energy in Game 2, Toronto still scored first.

Capitals forward Justin Williams acknowledged Washington has been the one chasing.

“It’s only two games, but we certainly haven’t scored the first goal twice,” Williams said. “We’ll try to do that in Game 3.”

Saturday marked the 10th time in the playoffs since 2008 that the Capitals have scored at least two goals on the power play during a game. Coincidentally, they are only 6-4 in that span.

Depending on that can be tricky. Four of those 10 games in which the Capitals scored twice happened during the 2016 playoffs. In their second round loss, the Penguins took advantage of the Capitals lack of ability to score outside the power play. Five of the Capitals’ 15 goals in that series came on the power play, two of them in the deciding 4-3 loss in Game 6.

That was then, but Toronto has evened the series in the meantime.

“Anytime we can get those long cycles in the opposite zone, we’re creating scoring chances, second chances,” Eller said. “That’s what we need more of. … I feel confident that we can win the next one in Toronto. No doubt.”

• Matthew Paras can be reached at mparas@washingtontimes.com.

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