After a tough loss to the Maple Leafs last Tuesday, the Florida Panthers were looking to snap their two-game losing streak, with a win against the Caps.
Before the game started, the Florida Panthers held a tribute to the victims of the Stoneman Douglas high school shooting, that took place in Parkland, Florida. The tribute included the seventeen victims’ names that were scattered around the ice, as well as a speech given from goaltender Roberto Luongo.
After a moment of silence was held, the puck was dropped to begin the game. The moment that puck was dropped, the Panthers came out buzzing like never before. All the emotions that were held from the players were left on the ice, which was seen in their style of determination and passion.
Florida worked hard looking for an early goal, and their hard work managed to pay off. Five minutes into the first and the Cats struck first. Maxim Mamin buried a rebound which came from an Ian McCoshen point shot, giving the 23-year-old his first career NHL goal:
A couple of minutes later, Jakub Vrana was called for interference against Roberto Luongo, sending Florida to their first power play of the night. Unfortunately though, the Cats failed to cash in on their man advantage, with score remaining 1-0 in favor of Florida.
Florida also ran into some trouble of their own when Vinnie Trocheck hooked Dmitry Orlov, giving the Capitals their first man advantage of the game. The call seemed to be pretty soft, with the replay showing minimal contact from Vincent Trocheck. Fortunately enough, the Panthers’ penalty killing unit managed to kill off the penalty successfully.
Washington found an equalizer through Lars Eller with a minute left in the period. The Capitals were controlling play in the Panthers’ zone for quite some time, when Eller showed up and slotted home the game’s tying goal.
Just before the period ended however, the Panthers were gifted with another power play opportunity, which would carry over to begin the second. Matt Niskanen was called for holding on Jonathan Huberdeau, giving the home side their second power play of the night.
The first period ended with a 1-1 score line. Florida dominated play during the beginning of the first, while the nation’s capital took over the period throughout the late stages of the first.
The Panthers began the second on the power play, creating some good scoring chances in result. Like their first man advantage however, the Cats failed to capitalize on this one, going 0/2 on the power play thus far.
The Capitals remained in domination throughout good chunks of the second period; however, they slipped up when gifting Florida their third power play of the game. Evgeny Kuznetsov was called for holding on Keith Yandle, jeopardizing Washington’s one-goal lead.
No matter what the Panthers were doing on the power play, nothing was clicking in the end. Florida would go 0/3 on the man advantage, signaling the end of the second period. The Caps went off the ice with a 2-1 lead after two periods of play.
For the Cats, the third period was their last chance at leveling up the game, with hopes that they could grab two points in this outing. The period didn’t start the way the Panthers wanted it to with Derek MacKenzie heading to the box for a hook, but the Cats managed to kill it off with fight and determination.
Washington’s night went from bad to worse as Lars Eller took an unnecessary penalty in the offensive zone, gifting Florida a beautiful opportunity to win the hockey game. With 40 seconds left, the Panthers did the unthinkable.
On the man advantage, Keith Yandle and Jonathan Huberdeau were playing catch up top, where Huby wristed a shot on goal. Vinnie Trocheck managed to get a stick on Huberdeau’s shot, redirecting the puck in:
Vinnie’s late goal propelled the Panthers to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals, summing up the perfect night overall. Not only did the Cats get an important two points, but they managed to get the win for the victims of the Douglas high school shooting.
All in all, the Florida Panthers stuck until the very end, chipping away as best as they could’ve. Defeating a team like Washington goes along ways, especially when you’re in need of two points. Your Panthers are back in action on Saturday, February 24th @7:00pm against the Pittsburgh Penguins!