Balanced Panthers Top Capitals After Ten Shootout Rounds 3-2

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Clemmensen earns his first win of the season with 23 saves, Kopecky gets the shootout winner.

Overall not a bad game by the Florida Panthers, tonight there was no catch in the 3-2 shootout win over the Washington Capitals...no sloppy defense, no painful offensive futility, no repeated penalty issues, just a good game. In fact, the Panthers did something I never expected to happen; beat the Capitals in the shootout with Clemmensen in net! Florida has now won 4 of their last 5 as they head on the road (possibly without Gudbranson, depending on some phone calls) and are gaining ground in the standings. The real test is ahead, with success against Detroit, the Panthers need to keep the momentum on their side as they head out to play a couple of divisional rivals who they've had trouble with recently.

Observations:

  • Not to say I told you so Peter, but you shouldn't have started Tim Thomas like 20 times in a row.
  • In the last two games the Panthers have been very fortunate to have two goals against waved off due to some pretty light goaltender interference occurrences. I know it's hard for some of you to believe, but Florida gets calls to go their way too sometimes.
  • Florida had a 4-minute power play in the first period and besides the absolute inability to form a good scoring chance, Huberdeau and Barkov were very noticeable as they struggled with the puck. Huberdeau has always been weak on the puck, but I haven't noted Barkov having trouble yet in his rookie season. Having players who can handle the puck on the power play would be nice instead of having Hubs and the defenseman fail to keep the puck in at the point.
  • Dylan Olsen has some hot hands lately, and for once one of the Panthers defensemen isn't sacrificing defense for offense. Olsen has been just about perfect since joining the Panthers.
  • Three separate times I heard the refs yell out "STAY OUT OF THE BLUE" after the Caps no-goal, I swear I've never seen that rule enforced so tightly.
  • After a disasterous and dangerous season from Erik Gudbranson, I was hoping he'd taken the dirty stuff out of his game. Guddy put a leaping chickenwing elbow to the head of Eric Fehr in the second period to earn a 5-minute major (and the usual full slate of other penalties) which would lead to a Caps goal 18 seconds later and again at the end of period. Gudbranson had several dangerous hits last season, none of which would earn suspensions...but judging by how strict the NHL has been with their punishments lately I'd be surprised if he doesn't sit out a few games.
  • Still wondering why Kopecky is being paid 3 million dollars a year (for tenth round shootout heroics, of course).
  • Clemmensen didn't have to make too many spectacular saves tonight unlike what Thomas usually has to do to win, which has me wondering if the Panthers change their style with the backup in net. Florida is usually very agressive in the third period, but with Clemmer in net Florida was much more conservative defensively.
  • Ovechkin needed a hat-trick to reach the 50 in 50 mark, but even with zero goals tonight he remains the best player in the world.
  • Visit one of SBN's best, Japers' Rink, for the Washington perspective.

Next Up: Florida heads north for a four-game Canadian road trip starting with Montreal at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens have been enjoying a good season so far and aren't that far behind for the top spot in the east. Florida needs a good game to overcome the Hab's good home record and their own less-than-shiny road record. Florida at Montreal, Sunday at 6.

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