We all thought that this week would go a long way in defining the Florida Panthers season. If that is true, the definition isn’t a good one. The Cats dropped their third game in a row (all against Southeast Division opponents) Saturday 3-2 to the Washington Capitals. And for the second straight night, they lose a game in which they had a lead.
Mike Santorelli (who responded positively to Friday night’s benching) got the Panthers on the board 3:49 into the first on a nice bit of tic-tac-toe passing by Dmitry Kulikov and David Booth. The Caps tied it up in the second period on Eric Fehr roofed one in from just outside Scott Clemmensen’s crease.
The third period started out positive for the Panthers as they buzzed the Caps net but couldn’t get one past Semyon Varmalov in that time. Washington made the Cats pay for that as Mike Green backhanded a PP goal (off a questionable Michael Frolik penalty) and Alex Ovechkin buried a breakaway in a three minute span to give the Caps all they needed. Evgeny Dadonov pulled the Cats within a goal with just under minutes remaining, but they couldn’t equalize, despite finishing the game on the power play.
You can easily trace this loss (and many others) back to the lack of a decent power play. The unit went 0-4 in the game and at times resembled a youth soccer game. In the last minute, the Panthers had a 6-4 advantage with Clemmensen pulled for the extra skater and Nicklas Backstrom in the box for a cross checking call, and it provided minimal damage. Of course, when you leave someone like Dadonov on the bench in that final minute even though he had been the most dangerous skater on the night, it’s not hard to figure out.
The Panthers will try to stop the bleeding Tuesday in Sunrise against these same Capitals in the first of a six game home stand. The team will have to really dominate this run of games if it wants to get back into the playoff race.
Check out Caps Outsider for their take on the game.
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