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Panthers drop 2-1 shootout decision to Capitals

Cats come close, but can't end their Verizon Center slump.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Panthers are still having a lot of trouble finding the back of the net, but a third period goal from Brad Boyes got the team another point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals were a perfect three for three in the skills competition. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Niklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin beat Al Montoya to offset Jonathan Huberdeau's first round goal. Justin Peters' stop on Jussi Jokinen in the second round set the stage for Ovechkin's winner.

Washington outplayed the Cats for much of the first period, but Montoya was able to keep the game scoreless until Jason Chimera lit the lamp, converting a sweet centering pass from Joel Ward for his first of the season. Eric Fehr picked up the second helper.

Montoya finished the game, his first start of the season, with 27 stops.

After an evenly played second period that resulted in no goals, the Panthers finally struck at the 4:27 mark of the third. Boyes scored a power-play goal, from Sean Bergenheim and Dylan Olsen, to tie the game. Olsen took the initial shot from the point, Bergenheim dug it out of Peters' pads to Boyes, who fired it into the yawning cage for his first goal.

Olsen made a fine defensive play on Ovechkin later in the period to help get the game to overtime, where the teams each netted three shots on goal, but failed to decide matters.

With the Cats trailing 2-1 in the shootout, Peters made a blocker save on Jokinen. Ovechkin got the Caps the bonus point by shooting high on a fallen Montoya.

The Panthers came into this game 0-6-2 in their last eight trips to D.C., so after Friday night's win in Buffalo, coming away with a point after being down in the third period is a solid result. There were plenty of positives to take from the game. The penalty kill (2 for 2) continues to improve, and with the exception of the first period against New Jersey, the team's goaltending has been downright excellent. The defense has been pretty solid too; throw out those four Devil scores in that one horrid frame, and the Cats have given up just 5 goals in the 14 other periods they've played. On the flip side, the offense continues to struggle mightily. They finally bagged another power-play marker, but that's just the second one of the season, making them a pathetic 2 for 23 with the man-advantage. No matter how good your goalies are, averaging one goal a game just isn't a recipe for success. Gerard Gallant needs to come up with a way, fast, to get his scorers scoring. Florida's traveling minstrel show's next stop is Denver, where they will take on the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

Odds & Ends

  • Washington forward Niklas Backstrom played in his 500th career NHL game last night. Although he scored in the shootout, the Cats kept him from picking up his 500th career point.
  • Shawn Thornton returned to the lineup after missing two games. Thornton finished with 1 SOG and a colossal hit on Brooks Laich that sent Laich to the dressing room.
  • Thornton's return sent Jimmy Hayes, who had 8 SOG in two games, back to the press box. Coach Gallant needs to find Hayes a spot on game days.
  • Brandon Pirri made his season debut and finished with 3 shots in 13:00 TOI. Pirri also went 3 of 6 in the face-off dot.
  • Like Al Montoya, Justin Peters was making his first start of the season. Peters finished with 20 saves, and two more in the shootout, to win the battle of the backups.
  • The Capitals thought they had a 2-0 lead, but an apparent second period score by Laich was waived off due to a high-stick.
  • Another tough night for Aleksander Barkov, who remains scoreless this season. Barkov finished with no shots and went 6 of 17 on face-offs. The young Finn only has 2 assists in his last 15 games played. After smelling a sophomore slump coming all offseason, nothing going on to change my opinion as of yet.
  • For more on last night's action, you can get patriotic over at Japers' Rink.