SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 6: Clay Wilson #3 of the Florida Panthers attempts to skate after the puck after being checked by Matt Bradley #10 of the Washington Capitals on March 6, 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
Hard to become too violently ill toward a cobbled-together Florida roster considering their willingness to drive through walls since the NHL Trade Deadline of a week ago. Yes, it's four straight losses (only one by more than a goal) but the compete-level has been amazingly high, and even that Montreal drubbing on Thursday was not the result of a lack of heart nor hustle.
That said, it was much more of the same on Sunday: the Panthers showed up, put a genuine scare into a Washington club on the precipice of retaking the SE lead, ultimately coming up short on the scoresheet. They were never dominated or outclassed - as was the case against the Habs; coach DeBoer had his boys once again playing to their strengths in a highly effective manner.
One of their strengths does not reside in the scoring department, however, as Florida's offense managed to squeeze only two pucks past Michal Neuvirth before commencing with the extra period, despite repeated mad-rushes around the Washington crease throughout the night. Neuvirth finished with 32 saves.
Simply put: they're not making life easy for any of their oppenents struggling for playoff positioning...or spots altogether.
Notes: FLA scorers - Bill Thomas, David Booth (PP); assists to Michal Repik, Mike Santorelli, Stephen Weiss, Dmitry Kulikov. WAS scorers - Nicklas Backstrom, Boyd Gordon, Alexander Semin (GW); assists to Alex Ovechkin, Mike Knuble, John Carlson, Matt Hendricks, Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner. Booth and Niclas Bergfors led FLA in SOG with 6. Kulikov led defensemen with 26:30(!) TOI; Weiss paced forwards with 25:22. PP: FLA - 1-5, WAS - 0-1. FLA led in FO wins 33-32 (Weiss 8-6, .571), though Backstrom was 11-6 (.647). Scott Clemmensen stopped 22 shots. Kenndal McArdle had a (short) fight and 4 hits in 7:47. WAS won the hit parade 29-18. Both clubs finished with 16 blocked shots. Former Panther Dennis Wideman was a +1 with 2 shots in 27 shifts. More from Japers' Rink here.
Next up: Blackhawks in Sunrise Tuesday. Live Game Thread at 6:30.