WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: Jacob Markstrom #25 of the Florida Panthers makes a save against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center on October 18, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
From the opening faceoff, the Capitals dominated puck possession, fenced Florida in its own zone and buzzed around 21-year-old goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who was making his first NHL start. Markstrom, a 2008 second-round draft pick, finished with 29 saves and showed why the Panthers value him so much.
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And value him they do. Rare is the case when a young goaltender makes such a crystal clear statement about potential to his employer. Ten minutes into the game, Washington was on pace for 42 shots before Florida settled into a more familiar mode, trading scoring chances on a relatively even field.
Unshaken through it all, Markstrom remained composed and in control of his crease when the situation - in the hands of a lesser talent - could easily have closed out with a goal deficit much worse than the two he allowed (one on an early powerplay). It truly was a monster test for the kid, made doubly difficult given the escalating pile of lost one-on-one battles and the Caps' sheer mastery along the boards. And the neutral zone. And the forecheck. And on and on.
Yes, the night ended with an "L" - and it was quite deserved on a number of levels - but for those following his development, Markstrom really stole the evening.