Catastrophic Defense Sees Florida Panthers Fall 4-3 in Washington

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 27: Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) makes a save on Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) during the Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals on November 27, 2019 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 27: Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) makes a save on Capitals right wing Tom Wilson (43) during the Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals on November 27, 2019 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Florida Panthers took another frustrating loss Wednesday, losing the game in the third period against the Washington Capitals.

The Florida Panthers have a lot of frustrating losses to their name just two months into the season. Plenty of late comebacks wasted by poor starts, failures to come through in shootouts, and inefficient scoring. This game has to be one of, if not the most, frustrating of losses.

Firstly, happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading this, whether it’s on Thursday or after it. For Panthers Head Coach Joel Quenneville, I’m sure he has plenty of things to be thankful for, but the backline and goalkeeping situations are not one of them.

Yet again, the Panthers’ defense let down their forward corps (who didn’t necessarily have the greatest game either). Letting in four goals on 20 shots is not the recipe to win hockey games, yet the Panthers continuously falter in their own end. No matter what better coaching or shiny new players you toss a combined $15.5 million of your salary towards, nothing seems to get better.

Sergei Bobrovsky can only save so much, but for some of these goals given up, there’s nothing more you can do but watch and think “really?” Some of the goals Florida gave up in this game were borderline laughable, not what you’d expect from a team clinging onto second place in the Atlantic for dear life.

The Florida Panthers’ started the night well, outshooting Washington by as much as eight shots on goal. The Panthers, who had switched up all four lines after Sunday’s loss to Buffalo, struggled to generate any offense.

Despite starting with two power plays in the first 10 minutes, as well as outshooting Washington by six at the end of one, it was the Caps who took the lead.

Evgeny Kuznetsov dropped the puck off for Alex Ovechkin, who waltzed straight through the slot before putting the puck through the legs of Sergei Bobrovsky. The slot is one of the most dangerous places on the ice for forwards, and the fact that both Anton Stralman and Mark Pysyk gave no resistance to Ovechkin, one of the elite forwards in the NHL, is nothing short of embarrassing.

Following that, the Panthers played one of their best defensive stints of action this season. The Cats limited Washington to no shots in 13 minutes, during which Florida were able to tie the game with Brett Connolly‘s first goal back in D.C. since signing for the Panthers. Connolly did well to break in following a stretch pass from Vincent Trocheck, beating Braden Holtby with a nice deke.

Of course, it would then be Washington to take the lead with their first shot in 12:46. Richard Panik broke in down the right-wing, firing past Bobrovsky off the opposite post and in. While it might be unfair to blame Bobrovsky, the team really needed a save there, and it just didn’t come.

Mike Hoffman would tie the game 22 seconds later, but it was such an odd taste. Florida, who had dominated the game in terms of puck possession and shots on goal- exactly double the shots Washington had to that point, 24-12 – could only manage to be level, failing to lead once.

In years’ past, this isn’t a horrendous outcome, but this team is meant to be competing for cups and fail to show it against yet another big test.

It was the next 10 minutes where Florida lost the game. Washington retook the lead for the third time after Sergei Bobrovsky failed to deal with Jakob Vrana’s shot properly, spilling it right to Lars Eller, again, unmarked in the slot, to backhand into an empty goal, 3-2 Caps.

Virtually the same thing happened on the next goal, with no rebound. Brendan Leipsic was able to walk right on in from the left side before putting it through the legs of Bobrovsky to make it 4-2, game over.

Yet again, this team fails to defend properly. It doesn’t matter how little chances Washington have when all 20 of their shots on goals were seemingly great goalscoring opportunities.

Despite Trocheck’s 4th goal of the season with roughly five minutes to play, it was too little too late, with the Panthers dropping their third game in a row.

A key phrase for Florida tonight: quality over quantity. Don’t look at the box score and see how much more dominant Florida were, look at how easy it was for Washington to score four times on 21 shots. It’s hard to beat a team when they score on roughly 25% of their shots in a game. Dale Tallon needs to take a long, hard look at what’s going wrong.

What is Contributing to Cats' Defensive Woes?. dark. Next

If there is a positive, the Panthers are still second in the Atlantic and will play their next nine games at home. The Cats are back in action Saturday against the Nashville Predators at 7:00 P.M.