The Florida Panthers were beaten 4-2 by the Washington Capitals Thursday at the BB&T Center. The loss was the Cats first on home ice this season.
A fast-paced, exciting first period saw the two squads trade quality scoring chances. The Panthers got lax a few times in front of goaltender Roberto Luongo, leading to an early 2-0 deficit.
Justin Williams got the first Washington goal when he stuck his own rebound past Luongo at the 8:25 mark. Defenseman Nate Schmidt set the play up with nice end-to-end rush before feeding cross ice to Williams.
The Capitals added to the lead 1:56 later thanks to a nifty Evgeny Kuznetsov deflection. After Mark Pysyk broke up an attempted pass in the Cats zone, the puck came to Matt Niskanen, who took a weak shot on net that Kuznetsov was able to tip right before Luongo could safely glove it.
Rookie Michael Matheson quickly drew the Panthers within one when he fired home a shot from the left boards after Keith Yandle's shot from the right point missed the net. Aleksander Barkov picked up his fourth point of the season with the secondary assist.
Jaromir Jagr hit another milestone with his 750th career goal at 14:10 of the second period. Barkov set Jagr up in the slot after Jonathan Marchessault found the center down low with the Cats on a power play.
Jagr joins Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801) as the only 750 goal-scorers in NHL history.
The Panthers held Alex Ovechkin to just two shots on goal, but the Caps superstar came up big with the go-ahead goal 7:33 into the final frame. Once again, it was Niskanen taking the initial shot, albeit a lot harder this time, and Ovechkin was able to redirect it by a helpless Luongo. Karl Alzner also picked up an assist on the Great 8’s second of the campaign.
Marcus Johansson put the game away with 1:20 remaining in regulation, taking advantage of a bad Jason Demers turnover to easily beat Luongo for the clinching goal.
The Panthers will look to get back in the win column when they play host to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. After that game, the Cats will embark on a four-game road trip that includes stops in Pittsburgh, Toronto, Buffalo and Detroit.
Stars & Stripes
- Jaromir Jagr’s historic goal was the Panthers’ first power-play marker of the young season. It took eleven tries for the Cats to convert on the man-advantage.
- Before Jagr scored, Colton Sceviour had an apparent power-play waved off at 7:47 of the second period due to a quick whistle. Had it stood, that would’ve made three straight games with a goal for Sceviour. Unlucky...
- The Capitals have earned at least a point in all four games this season and top the Metropolitan Division with seven points.
- Keith Yandle’s assist on the Matheson goal was his first point in a Panther uniform.
- Braden Holtby finished with 26 saves to post the win while Roberto Luongo made 25 stops and suffered his first loss of the year.
- Vincent Trocheck registered a game-high five shots on goal, and went an astounding 15 of 18 in the faceoff dot, but finished finished with a -2 rating, as did Sceviour, Aaron Ekblad and Jason Demers.
- Visit Japers’ Rink for the others side of last night’s game.