Rookie Tournament Game One: Baby Panthers 2, Baby Capitals 1

Connor Brickley and Jayce Hawryluk (SO) scored in the Panthers' 2-1 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals.

The annual rookie camp is now officially underway, and the Florida Panthers got off to a good start, picking up a 2-1 shootout victory over the Washington Capitals.

The tempo of the game was quick from the start, with both teams pressuring each other on the forecheck, and every player finishing their checks. The aggressiveness of the Cats players was encouraging to see, as they were able to bottle up Washington in their own end for good chunks of time.

The line of Lawson Crouse - Matt Leitner - Rocco Grimaldi created their fair share of chances, with Crouse having two great scoring chances in the first period. Here's Rocco getting the puck into the zone, and pushing it behind the net to Leitner, who then centers it to Crouse. Unfortunately, the big-bodied winger failed to convert on the scoring chance.

Crouse also showcased his size and his speed. He absolutely flew down the ice in order to create this scoring chance, but again failed to get the puck into the net.

The team's first-round pick in 2015 also showed some of his strong defensive skills, as he consistently disrupted the opposition's breakout attempts. Here, he steals the puck, and then sets up a shot attempt for Grimaldi.

The Capitals got their fair of chances, with most of them coming off of the stick of Jakub Vrana, who looked very impressive in this game.

Though the Caps didn't have too many Grade A chances, they did have several shots off of the rush, and in the high slot. Sam Brittain looked good throughout the game, and didn't give the Capitals anything to work with off of their long distance shots.

At the end of the first period, the score was 0-0.

The second period consisted of more back and forth action between the two teams, without too many highlights. The Capitals did manage to sneak one past Brittain, however.

Carter Hobbs got credit for the flukey goal, which somehow managed to deflect off of someone's skate in the middle and sneak past Brittain's pad.

The third period was the Vitek Vanecek show, as the Capitals second-round selection in 2014 put up a great performance in goal, and did his best to keep the Cats from mounting a comeback.

Finally, after a turnover in the neutral zone, Connor Brickley knifed into the zone, and rifled a shot that beat Vanecek and tied the game late in the third period.

The game would go into both 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 overtime, leading to a plethora of odd-man rushes and scoring chances, but neither team was able to finish off the game.

In the shootout, Sam Brittain stopped all three shots he faced, and Jayce Hawryluk's beautiful opening-round snipe was all the Panthers needed to secure the comeback win.

Extra Notes

  • Mike Matheson had a good game, and showcased his elite skating abilities, as he always does. /
  • Jakub Vrana was all over the place during the OT period, and had several chances to put the game away. Washington has a solid prospect in the 19-year-old from the Czech Republic.
  • The Cats power play definitely in this game was mediocre. Passes weren't tape-to-tape, there was only one real scoring chance, and overall, they went 0-for-4. I guess that's to be expected when players don't have much time to practice with each other, though one would hope that sheer offensive talent would be enough to create SOME offense. /

Game Two vs. the Nashville Predators takes place tomorrow, at 3 P.M., in Estero, Florida. Admission is free to the public, and I will be live-tweeting the game (with GIFs!) again. Follow me on Twitter (@shane1342o) for updates!