Washington Capitals perplexed about power play disparity in series with Pens

PITTSBURGH – The Washington Capitals are being overpowered by the Pittsburgh Penguins despite owning the lead in their playoff series, and they’re confused why that’s happening.

Capitals general manager George McPhee and coach Bruce Boudreau were critical again Thursday of the Penguins’ 7-2 edge in power plays during Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime victory over Washington in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

“One team gets seven power plays, the other team gets two, it’s hard to win that game,” McPhee said. “Your defence is tired, your role players are tired from killing penalties all night, and your top players don’t get as much ice time as they’d like.”

Despite having nine power plays to Pittsburgh’s 17, the Capitals lead 2-1 going into Game 4 in Pittsburgh on Friday night.

“The supervisor in this series is as good as they come, Terry Gregson is terrific,” McPhee said. “But if the referees aren’t going to listen, what good is it?”

The Capitals especially disliked a spearing call on Simeon Varlamov that occurred seconds after Evgeni Malkin collided with the rookie goalie during Wednesday night’s game.

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Boudreau said: “If they wanted to make calls like that, they certainly could have called four or five more on them.”

“They just don’t protect the goalie. He got punched in the head in the first series (by the Rangers’ Sean Avery) and cross-checked a couple of games ago (by the Penguins’ Chris Kunitz).

“Malkin ran over him, and he (Varlamov) gives them a flick of the stick and we get a penalty,” McPhee said. “It’s not right. Those aren’t slashes.

“Those aren’t things you call in NHL playoff games. It can’t be 7-2 (power plays) in NHL playoff games when it really didn’t feel that way.”

Through 10 playoff games, the Capitals have 42 power plays to their opponents’ 48. One of the key goals of their 3-2 victory in Game 1 against Pittsburgh was scored by Alex Ovechkin during a 5-on-3 advantage.

“At times in the playoffs, some of the ones (penalties) we took were maybe let go before,” defenseman Mike Green said. “But we can’t complain and say that’s the reason we lost because it’s not.”