With three games remaining and nothing on the line, the Florida Panthers continued on their strange winning ways.
I have to say, from the moment the puck dropped, the Florida Panthers were ready to play. Unfortunately, those words cannot be said throughout the entirety of the season.
Anyhow, the Panthers got off to a blistering start, catching the Capitals fast asleep. Needless to say, the Cats scored the game’s opening goal.
In the second, Jonathan Huberdeau doubled the home side’s lead, slotting a loose puck that was sitting around Copley’s goal.
The Panthers continued pouring pressure on the Capitals, battling for a third goal. Their efforts would be rewarded as Trocheck buried his shorthanded breakaway chance, tripling the Panthers’ lead.
As the Cats continued to come in waves – while the Caps found it ever-so-difficult to manage that pressure – the Panthers found the back of the net for a fourth consecutive time.
Captain Aleksander Barkov came storming into Capitals territory, beautifully setting up Troy Brouwer with a scoring opportunity on a golden platter. Brouwer was left to do the easy work, sliding the puck into the empty net (4-0, FLA).
What looked to be an eventual blowout win heading into the third, suddenly became a close embarrassment loss for the Cats in the next twenty minutes.
In the final ten minutes of regulation, the Panthers almost collapsed. It wasn’t really a surprise seeing that the Panthers have done this before.
Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nick Backstrom brought life back to the visitors, scoring approximately five minutes apart. Then, Jakub Vrana brought them even closer, scoring just over a minute after Backstrom (4-3, FLA).
But, while it seemed like a comeback wasn’t impossible on the Capitals’ end, it just wasn’t meant to be. A fourth goal just wouldn’t enter the back of the net, no matter how many pucks they threw at Roberto Luongo.
The Panthers, on the other hand, would close out the game with an empty-net goal through Vincent Trocheck. Forward Aleksander Barkov – who received an assist on the goal – matched Pavel Bure for the most points (94) in a single season in Florida Panthers history.
Essentially, the Panthers played a well-rounded game for forty minutes but struggled to keep hold of their four-goal lead in the remaining twenty minutes.
It’s been the same story throughout the majority of the season, which is quite unfortunate considering the talent that this team holds.
Regardless, the Panthers have two games remaining until they close off the 2018-19 season for good. Enjoy it while you can (and for what it’s worth) because it’s going to be a long summer filled with uncertainty and hope.