Florida Panthers Pick Up First Victory of the Season; Defeat Caps 6-5 in SO

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 19: Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers celebrates with his teammates after scoring the game winning goal during a shootout against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on October 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. The Panthers defeated the Capitals 6-5. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 19: Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers celebrates with his teammates after scoring the game winning goal during a shootout against the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena on October 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. The Panthers defeated the Capitals 6-5. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Following four consecutive heart-breaking losses to begin the 2018-19 campaign, the Florida Panthers were faced with an uphill task: challenging the defending Stanley Cup champions on the road.

The Florida Panthers called upon a well-rested James Reimer, with the Washington Capitals summoning superstar netminder Braden Holtby. Would the desperate, yet struggling Cats dethrone the defending champs?

The first period commenced with hardly any excitement. Both sides didn’t register many shots, as the Cats and Caps seemed sluggish out of the floodgates early on. The Panthers received a power-play opportunity but couldn’t capitalize or even record a shot-on-goal.

However, the tale of the story suddenly turned, as the excitement gradually picked up. The Florida Panthers struck first blood, with Vincent Trocheck receiving credit for the goal (1-0 FLA).

On a rush towards Holtby’s net, Vinny simply flicked the puck, somehow finding its way behind Braden Holtby for a Panther goal. But, Florida’s one-goal lead quickly vanished, courtesy of John Carlson (1-1).

With Lars Eller speeding down the lane, attracting the attention of three Panthers, John Carlson received a brilliant feed from Eller and subsequently finished. Reimer’s positioning on the sequence was incredibly poor, and Carlson unsurprisingly took full advantage.

However, the Florida Panthers were gifted yet another PP chance. This time, the Cats capitalized on the man advantage, as Aleksander Barkov brilliantly assisted Evgeni Dadonov for Florida’s second goal of the contest (2-1 FLA).

Only 38 seconds following Dadonov’s PPG, Colton Sceviour would tack on an additional goal for the Cats, providing the Panthers with a much-needed two-goal cushion (3-1 FLA).

Colton’s goal – his first of the season – resulted from a complete scramble in front of Holtby’s net. Sceviour’s initial shot attempt was blocked by a sprawling WSH defender, but Colton followed through on the rebound and potted the puck past Holtby.

The Panthers weren’t finished adding onto their lead, as their consistent offensive zone pressure evidently paid dividends.

In fact, moments later, Jared McCann recorded his 1st of the year, extending Florida’s first period to a whopping three goals (4-1 FLA).

Following Braden Holtby’s tremendous save on a Denis Malgin backhand effort, Jared McCann benefited from magnificent positioning, backhanding the puck into a yawning cage.

The first period would ultimately conclude with the surging Cats carrying a commanding 4-1 lead into the dressing room. The Cats dominated the first period of play, and the scoreline was proof of their tremendous efforts early on. However, the second period was an entirely different story.

As Washington pulled Braden Holtby from the game, they clearly received the wake-up call. The Caps played like defending Stanley Cup champs in the second period. Their level of physicality and intensity increased, as well.

Alexander Ovechkin absolutely leveled a defenseless Mark Pysyk, hence knocking Pysyk out for the remainder of the hockey game.

The Caps began chipping away at Florida’s colossal lead, slowly but surely. Low-profile forwards Brett Connolly and Jakub Vrana contributed meaningful goals, trimming Florida’s lead from three to one rather quickly (4-3 FLA).

The Cats were dominated in nearly all aspects of the game in the second period. The Capitals continually received high-quality scoring chances from FLA’s mistakes.

On an egregious rebound conceived by James Reimer, along with mediocre defensive efforts, Devante Smith-Pelly potted the equalizer for the Washington Capitals (4-4).

The Cats surrendered three unanswered goals, hence resulting in Michael Hutchinson relieving James Reimer in the second period.

Fortunately for Florida, the Capitals’ undisciplined play proved costly for Washington yet advantageous for Florida.

The Panthers were awarded a five-on-three opportunity, as Ovi committed an interference penalty and the Caps shot themselves in the foot with a too many men on the ice penalty, as well. For the second time of the game, the Cats cashed in on the man advantage.

The five-man forward unit finally worked in Florida’s favor, with Jonathan Huberdeau reclaiming the lead for the Panthers (5-4 FLA).

Standing in front of Washington’s goal, Hubby cleaned up Dadonov’s shot by smoothly finishing on the backhand.

The second period ended with the Cats preserving a highly dangerous one-goal lead over the fierce Capitals.

The Florida Panthers were gift-wrapped another five-on-three PP but couldn’t score, unfortunately.

The sense of urgency picked up for Washington, directing an abundance of quality chances toward Hutchison’s net.

Michael Hutchinson continually stopped various tremendous scoring chances, temporarily maintaining the one-goal lead for the Cats in the 3rd period.

However, late in the third period, Alexander Ovechkin drew a penalty (brilliant acting on Ovi’s part), providing the desperate Caps with a PP opportunity.

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Hutchinson would make a flurry of dynamic saves during the PP for the Caps. However, with the extra attacker on along with the PP (6-4 advantage), the Capitals would eventually tie the game, courtesy of Nick Backstrom (5-5).

With all hope seeming lost, Evgeni Dadonov rekindled the fire for the Cats, drawing a tripping penalty with 22 seconds remaining in regulation. Ultimately, the high-scoring affair required overtime, as both sides gained a well-deserved point.

In O.T., the Cats simply couldn’t muster up multiple glorious scoring chances, as Washington successfully killed off their penalty.

The overtime period concluded with minimal scoring opportunities from either side, as the game would essentially be decided via a shootout.

This was highly familiar territory for the Florida Panthers, as their first two road games were decided via a shootout (dropped both versus PHI and TBL).

In the first round of the SO, historically dominant shooters T.J. Oshie and Aleksander Barkov both scored (1-1). In the second round, Washington would score while Nick Bjugstad misfired (2-1 WSH).

In the third round, with the Caps simply needing one SO goal to clinch a home victory, captain Alexander Ovechkin was denied by the glove of Michael Hutchinson. Thereafter, Vincent Trocheck would even the scoreline, potting a clutch five-hole goal with immense pressure (2-2).

In the fourth round, which would ultimately become the final round, Nick Backstrom completely missed Hutchinson’s net, giving the Panthers the chance to seal the deal.

Florida’s fourth shooter, Jonathan Huberdeau, finished beautifully for the Cats (3-2 FLA), giving the Panthers their first victory of the 2018-19 campaign.

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