The Florida Panthers closed out a disappointing 2016-17 season by blanking the Washington Capitals 2-0 at the Verizon Center.
James Reimer made 38 saves to post his second shutout of the weekend and third of the season.
After Reimer and Washington starter Braden Holtby kept things quiet for the first 35:47 of action, Derek MacKenzie finally opened the scoring with a shorthanded goal with 4:13 left in the middle frame.
Colton Sceviour knocked the puck loose from a Jay Beagle, who was try to get a shot off, and MacKenzie took control and sped up the ice and beat Holtby off the post for his sixth of the season.
Rookie Denis Malgin extended Florida’s lead with a power-play goal at 9:47 of the third period. Nick Bjugstad held on to the puck for a bit and then fed Reilly Smith in the corner and he centered to Malgin in front. The Swiss rookie deked Holtby’s replacement, Philipp Grubauer, before putting the puck through his five-hole.
Reimer, who whitewashed Buffalo on Saturday, was at his best in the first period, when the Capitals tested him fifteen times, including this one-timer chance by Marcus Johansson.
While that’s a wrap for the Panthers, the NHL playoffs get underway with five games on Wednesday. Looking forward to the June draft, the Panthers will select ninth unless they win a lottery and move up into the top three or make a trade.
Starts & Stripes
- James Reimer capped a solid first season in Florida with back-to-back shutout wins. Reimer set career-highs for appearances (42) and minutes (2,337) and finished with a 18-16-5 record, 2.53 GAA and .920 save percentage.
- Interim coach Tom Rowe was behind the Panthers’ bench for the final time. Rowe went 24-26-10 after replacing Gerard Gallant in late November.
- Braden Holtby stopped 14 of 15 shots before giving way to Philipp Grubauer, who started the third period. Grubauer turned away 5 of the 6 shots he faced.
- Denis Malgin finished up strong, scoring for the second time in the last three games. The rookie registered a combined 12 shots and+2 rating against St. Louis, Buffalo and Washington.
- With seven regulars out resting, Washington made a classy move in recalling 2009 sixth-round draft pick Garrett Mitchell to make his NHL debut. The 25-year-old Mitchell, a forward, has spent the last six seasons with the Caps’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears.
- Vincent Trocheck finished the season with 54 points (23G/31A) to lead the Panthers in scoring. Jonathan Marchessault’s 30 goals were the team-high, while Keith Yandle 36 assists were tops.
- Trocheck, Yandle, Jaromir Jagr, Derek MacKenzie and Mark Pysyk were the five Cats who played in all 82 games.
- For more on the season finale, visit our friends at Japers’ Rink. The Capitals will face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs.