The Florida Panthers have been putting themselves in positions to win game but have struggled to find that final point. Last night the Panthers came back from a 2-1 deficit in the third period against the Washington Capitals to send the game to overtime but were unable to steal the second point as they fell 3-2 in the shootout in D.C.
The shootout was the Panthers fourth in their last six games. Their record in those four shootouts is 1-3. The Panthers continued their struggles against the Washington Capitals as they lost their eight straight game against their former Southeast Division rival. The Panthers have also now lost eight straight games in Washington. The Panthers have not won at the Verizon Center since December of 2009.
The point brings the Panthers total to nine for the season and their record falls to 3-8-3. The Capitals, who were playing their second straight game without Alex Ovechkin, who sustained an upper body injury Monday against the Canucks, improved to 7-7-0.
The Panthers came out and took control of the game in the first period. They outshot the Caps 11-5 in the opening frame and dominated possession. As we have often seen this season, despite controlling the game in the early going, the Panthers still went into the break down 1-0. Nicklas Backstrom got the scoring started for Washington at 16:41 into the first when he collected a puck of a players skate and fired it past Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen.
The Panthers would even things up in the second when Jesse Winchester converted on a breakaway chance for his third goal of the season. Winchester continued to be one of the Panthers most consistent forwards and the goal was his third point in the last four games. The Capitals did not wait long to regain their lead, only 36 seconds to be exact. On the shift immediately following Florida’s goal, John Carlson was able to beat Clemmer to give Washington a 2-1 lead.
The Panthers fought back in the third period when Tomas Fleischmann scored on a 4-on-3 power play at 17:22 into the final frame. Flash was assisted by Brian Campbell and Jonathan Huberdeau. The goal came on the Panthers sixth power play of the game and it was the first shorthanded goal given up by the Caps in their last 35 penalty kills.
Mikhail Grabovski and Aleksander Barkov each scored in the first round of the shootout. A Jonathan Huberdeau miss in round two coupled with goals from Brooks Laich and Backtrom gave Washington the victory in the shootout.
All things considered, picking up a point in Washington is not a bad result. Florida outshot Washington 33-23. Scott Clemmensen received his first start this season for Florida and looked pretty good stopping 21 of 23. In net for Washington was Michal Neuvirth who stopped 31 of 33.
Kevin Dineen shook up the lineup last night in an attempt to motivate his team. Kris Versteeg, Sean Bergenheim, and Matt Gilroy were the healthy scratches making way for Scottie Upshall, Krys Barch and Ryan Whitney to get back in the lineup. Bergenheim was given the night off because the Panthers do not want to push him too hard as he is just coming off a year long injury. Versteeg was benched because of his recent ineffectiveness and he was not too happy about it.
“Obviously I’m being used as an example,” Versteeg told the Miami Herald, “Hopefully the guys rally around that and win. It’s tough. I’ve never been put in this situation. It’s not fun. It’s a kick to the midsection.”
Marcel Goc got into his first NHL fight last night in his 502nd NHL game. Goc took exception to a hit on Tomas Fleischmann and went after Caps forward Michael Latta. Goc amassed 17 penalty minutes (fighting major, instigator, 10 minute misconduct) topping his previous game high of four.
The Panthers return home on Tuesday for a game against the Edmonton Oilers. After that they embark on a three game road trip which will see them face the Bruins, Senators and Rangers.
What did you think about the game last night? Happy with the effort? Are you getting sick of shootout losses already? Share your thoughts in the comments section below and follow The Rat Trick on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest.