September 20, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 30 Recap: Caps come up short in epic shootout with Florida

By Brian Barnard

Following their Saturday night victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Washington Capitals faced another former Southeast division rival on Tuesday. The Caps were greeted in Sunrise by a surging Florida Panthers team that has gone 5-3-2 over its last ten games. When the two squared off in mid-October, the Caps won a 2-1 shootout victory.

This time around, the Panthers returned the favor, winning the game 2-1 after a shootout that went 20 rounds and involved rally helmets on the bench. It was officially five rounds longer than the previous record-holder, the Capitals vs. the Rangers at MSG in 2005 (see, Marek Malik).

Though the Panthers have been the bottom dwellers of the Eastern Conference for the past few years, their revamped roster has put them squarely in the wild card hunt, coming into the game tied for points with both the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers. The Panthers had a respectable 3-0-1 in their last four games at BB&T Center.

Coming into the game, the story was going to be the give-and-take between periods and seeing who would capitalize on their opportunities. Recently, the Capitals have come out strong but struggled during the third period — especially in the close call against the Lightning on Saturday night. The Panthers, on the other hand, have started slow but found ways to finish strong. Over their last three games, the Panthers were outscored 6-2 in the first period, but had positive numbers for the remaining forty minutes.

First Period

  • The first half of the opening period saw both teams splitting time in their zones, an even give-and-take that favored strong defense and minimizing scoring chances.
  • The Caps found very little room to work in the Panthers’ zone, usually forced to take shots from the point or the boards.
  • The Panthers played disciplined hockey, keeping the Capitals out of the slot. Goalie Roberto Luongo got it done, protecting the net and keeping the lid on rebounds.
  • At 9:36 in the 1st, Panthers’ center Derek MacKenzie recovered a turnover from Mike Green and put a slick snapshot past Braden Holtby, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.

Second Period

  • An interference call on Jason Chimera at 2:15 of the 2nd put the Panthers on the power play, but excellent PK work from the Caps kept the Panthers from scoring.
  • On the odd man rush following the power play, Nicklas Backstrom had a great chance to tie up the game but his wrist shot found Luongo’s pads.
  • Panthers’ Tomas Fleischmann was called for hooking at 5:10 of the 2nd period, but despite a few shots from Ovechkin, the Caps were unable to convert on the power play.
  • The Caps got another chance at 13:46 of the 2nd following a Dylan Olsen holding penalty. This time, they were able to cash in on a quick Troy Brouwer slapshot in the slot, tying the game up at 1-1. Ovechkin and Backstrom were credited with the assists.

Third Period

  • With just over three minutes left in regulation, the Caps nearly took the lead when Brooks Laich was able to push the puck through a crowd in front of the Panthers’ net. Upon review, the goal was disallowed as it appeared Laich kicked the puck in with his skate.

Overtime/Shootout

  • The teams traded chances in the final minutes of OT. Ovechkin stormed down the ice for a near miss, then Nick Bjugstad and the Panthers rushed right back, firing a shot that hit the post and rang out through BB&T Center.
  • The shootout took 20 rounds. It featured goals by a few players who weren’t expected to score (Brooks Orpik!) and a few key stops against veterans who could have ended it.
  • Nick Bjugstad scored the game-winner with a quick deke to the right and a wristshot.

Final takeaways:

  • The Caps were solid defensively tonight, especially against a young and talented Panthers squad that was quick to break out and cut through the neutral zone.
  • The offense had plenty of room for improvement. They were unable to generate chances in the Panthers’ zone, and were forced to work from outside the slot.
  • Several Caps forwards were barely noticeable on the ice, especially Marcus Johansson, whose production has slipped dramatically. It’s important they get their turnovers under control and find a spark for their offense.
  • If not for the unlucky Mike Green turnover, it could’ve been a 1-0 game. The net-minding made all the difference: both Holtby and Luongo continued their stellar play. If their work in regulation wasn’t enough to convince you, the shootout should have.
About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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