In a shootout more epic than Gilgamesh or AC Transit badass Thomas "Epic Beard Man" Bruso, the Florida Panthers defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 when Nick Bjugstad beat Braden Holtby with a beautiful move and roofed the winner in round 20. That's right, round 20, a new NHL record. Florida outscored Washington 6-5 in the skills competition to collect the much-needed bonus point.
The Panthers looked engaged for much of the first period and it paid off when Derek MacKenzie notched his third of the season from Scottie Upshall, who was making his return to action after a nine-game absence. Upshall forced a turnover that MacKenzie snapped home from the circle.
Roberto Luongo stopped all nine shots he faced in the opening stanza to get the Cats to the dressing room with a 1-0 lead.
Things got a little sloppy in second period and Washington was able to capitalize (see what I did there) on Florida's second penalty of the frame, a holding call on Dylan Olsen. Troy Brouwer got the goal, off a blocked shot In front, with the assists going to the Caps' dynamic duo of Alexander Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom.
The Panthers dominated most of the third, taking the first seven shots of the period, but they could not solve Holtby to regain the lead. Washington had some nice chances in the closing minutes, including a Brooks Laich bid that was disallowed (he kicked it in) and another dangerous shot that was stopped by Luongo and swept to safety by Olsen.
The shootout was both exhilarating and frustrating, with the Cats getting key matches when needed and blowing multiple opportunities to clinch. In addition to Bjugstad's winner, the Panthers got conversions from Jussi Jokinen, Dave Bolland, MacKenzie, Sean Bergenheim and Olsen. The Capitals scorers were Ovechkin, Laich, Joel Ward, John Carlson and Brooks Orpik. Prized Panther youngsters Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov failed miserably on their attempts. Bjugstad had a great chance to end the game in overtime, but he hit the post, paving the way for a little history at the BB&T Center.
Stars & Stripes
- The 20-round shootout shattered the previous record of 15, set in a November 26, 2005 game between the Capitals and New York Rangers.
- Florida's six shootout goals and the combined eleven were also NHL highs.
- Dylan Olsen's clutch 17-round goal came on his first career shootout attempt. The tilt his was 100th career NHL game.
- Roberto Luongo finished the first 65 minutes of the game with 23 saves, while his counterpart Braden Holtby made 28 stops. It was Holtby's first loss against the Panthers.
- Aleksander Barkov returned after a six-game absence and registered one shot on goal in 18:27 TOI.
- The Cats are 11-2-8 in one-goal games this season.
- Alexander Ovechkin led the Capitals with six shots on goal, while Sean Bergenheim paced Florida with five. Ovechkin was denied by Luongo to set the stage for Bjugstad's round 20 heroics.
- For more on last night's record-setting marathon, visit Japers' Rink and our new friends at Russian Machine Never Breaks.