James Reimer made 41 saves to backstop the Florida Panthers to a 4-1 victory over the Washington Capitals, ending the Cats three-game losing streak.
Reimer stopped all 16 shots in the opening period as the Panthers built a two-goal lead they would not relinquish, despite being outplayed for large portions of the game.
Connor Brickley, back in the lineup after being scratched in Friday night’s loss to Pittsburgh, converted a nifty pass from Jared McCann from in close to give the Cats an early lead 1:26 into the action. The speed of McCann and Nick Bjugstad forced defenseman Christian Djoos into a turnover behind his own net, leading to Brickley’s second of the season.
The Panthers managed to fend off the Capitals attack the rest of the period and extended their lead with a late power-play goal at the 19:30 mark. After taking a pass from Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau found Evgenii Dadonov open in the slot and the patient former KHLer pulled Tom Wilson to the ice before firing the puck past Philipp Grubauer for his second.
Florida’s power play clicked again 8:58 into the second period to put the visiting Cats up by three. This time Trocheck got the goal, one-timing a molasses-like pass from Aleksander Barkov home from the face-off dot in the left circle with the Panthers enjoying a two-man advantage. Dadonov collected another point with the secondary assist.
The Capitals got the board when Djoos atoned for his first period mistake with 4:37 left in the middle frame. Djoos took a pass from Devante Smith-Pelly along the boards and put the moves on MacKenzie Weegar and Radim Vrbata to get into the slot, avoiding the stick of Jamie McGinn before finally beating Reimer with a rising wrister. Lars Eller registered the second assist of the goal.
Reimer came up big in the third, as the Capitals out-shot the Panthers by a 13-4 margin. Here, Florida’s goaltender denies Dmitry Orlov’s bid from a sharp angle as well Smith-Pelly’s follow up on the rebound to preserve the Panthers two-goal lead.
Barkov would complete the scoring unassisted into an empty-net with the Cats shorthanded with 1:16 left in regulation, joining Dadonov and Trocheck with a goal and assist on the night.
Mission accomplished. Despite a 42 to 23 disparity in shots on goal, the Panthers ended their three-game losing streak and posted their first road win of the young season. Florida can get back to .500 with a win in Montreal against the struggling Canadiens on Tuesday night.
Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)
Stars & Stripes
- Props to the maligned defense pairing of Aaron Ekblad and Keith Yandle. Ekblad logged a team-high 27:20 and had two shots and a block while Yandle played 24:01 and blocked three shots. The duo were two of eight Panthers to finish with a plus rating.
- The penalty-prone Capitals fell to 1-3-0 on home ice. They have taken at least five penalties in five of nine games played.
- Florida forwards Colton Sceviour (upper body) and Jared McCann (lower body) did not finish the game. They are both listed as day to day.
- Philipp Grubauer stopped 19 of 22 shots and saw his record drop to 0-2-1.
- With Roberto Luongo on injured reserve, Florida recalled Harri Sateri from the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds.
- Washington defenseman John Carlson led all skaters with 29:48 TOI and seven shots on goal. The Panthers limited Alex Ovechkin to just four shots.
- Stop by Japers’ Rink to crow about Florida’s second straight win in the District.