Despite holding the lead for much of the game, the Panthers couldn't muster up enough goal support to keep it, and eventually succumbed to the star power of the Washington Capitals, losing by a final of 2-1. This was yet another divisional game that Florida needed to win to ensure a solid grasp on first in the Southeast, but thanks to some lackluster offensive totals the Panthers gave up the win and are now only two points ahead of the Caps. Florida netminder Jose Theodore was fantastic throughout the whole game and finished with 39 saves on 41 shots, but he had very little help as Tomas Fleischmann would be the only Panther to score.
Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin would bring the Capitals back to life in the third period and Tomas Vokoun would hold down the fort as the Panthers pressed hard to tie it up late in the period. The Caps have now beaten the Panthers in their last two meetings and these games could end up being the difference at the end of the season as these two teams compete for first place in the division. They have one meeting left in Washington, and you have to hope the Panthers can take that one, else things are going to get very difficult for Florida in the end.
- Tomas Fleischmann (19) 19:20, assists to Stephen Weiss and Brian Campbell
- No scoring
- Alex Ovechkin (24) PP 4:47, assists to Alexander Semin and Mike Knuble
- Alexander Semin (16) 13:27, unassisted
- Jose Theodore was just awesome. So awesome, in fact, that Billy Lindsay described one of his glove saves on Brooks Laich as "succulent." He was quick, acrobatic and looked just fantastic all game. Hate to say it, but his effort was wasted.
- The first and second periods were a Washington shooting gallery as the Caps peppered Theodore with THIRTY shots. The Cats tend to lose games where they're allowing that many shots. That trend would continue with this loss.
- Keaton Ellerby had a pretty good game, leading the Panthers in hits and making opposing forwards pay when they tried to take the puck deep into the offensive zone. His puck possession skills and shooting leave something to be desired, but if he can be a consistent physical presence defensively, he'll be just fine.
- Tomas Vokoun had a pretty rough first period. He tried to glove several shots and either bobbled or dropped the puck, leading to numerous chances for the Panthers. Maybe some jitters playing against his former home crowd... all 8,000 of them. He calmed down as the game went on though and looked sharp throughout.
- Mike Knuble looked to have tied up the game late in the second period as he was camped out in the crease and tipped one by Theodore. Unfortunately for Knuble, he was in the crease and that negated the goal and earned him a two-minute goaltender interference penalty. Good to see that getting called because that penalty gets overlooked a lot.
- The Capitals' fourth line was very good almost the entire game. They pinned several different Florida lines in their own zone for long stretches and generated a bunch of shots and scoring chances. Can't say the same for the Panthers' fourth line.
- Mike Weaver took a hard stick to the face from Knuble during a scramble in front of the Panther net before the Ovechkin goal while he was laying on the ice trying to cover up the puck or block a shot. However, Weaver is indestructible, and he was back on the ice after missing only a few shifts.
- The Panthers really made things difficult for themselves with some bad penalties later in the game. The Ovechkin goal was due to a Mikael Samuelsson slash that was ill-advised (though a little questionable as well). Moments after that goal, Krys Barch went to the box and the Caps nearly scored again, though Theodore was able to hold them off. Finally, Ellerby got caught high sticking (again questionable), giving the Caps a third chance on the powerplay. It's always bad to take penalties, but late in the game against a team like the Caps is tempting fate.
- One goal isn't gonna cut it. This team needs to start scoring more or they're toast.
- Beer me: Southern Tier Choklat Stout. LIke a Hershey Kiss with alcohol.
First Star: Jose Theodore. With the Caps posting over 40 shots, Theodore had to be sharp and he was excellent. Unfortunately for him, he only got a single goal from his teammates for support.
Worst Star: Can't really blame any one person when the team as a whole only scores one goal. The offense has to start showing up every single game or this team won't sniff the postseason.
Up Next: Two straight losses could very easily turn into three, because the absurdly-hot Anaheim Ducks are coming to Sunrise on Sunday. The Ducks have been tearing it up and although they just lost in a shootout to the New Jersey Devils, they are playing great hockey and will give the Panthers a whoopin' if the Cats aren't ready for them. Hopefully this loss stings just enough to make them come out with a great game and not a fowl one. (ZOMG PUN)