Capital Offense: Caps 4, Cats 2

The Panthers lost on Saturday night after the Capitals scored three times in the third period.

The Washington Capitals defeated the Florida Panthers by a 4-2 final at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C. on Saturday night.

Jared McCann opened the scoring in the first period with his first marker as a Panther just 5:17 into the contest when he deflected an Alex Petrovic shot from the point. It was Petro’s fourth assist this season, with a secondary helper to Denis “The Menace” Malgin (3).

Jaromir Jagr quietly disappeared after the midpoint of the period and didn’t return to the ice. Although nothing jumped out on the replay, he was later diagnosed with a lower-body injury. Jagr has a goal and four assists in 11 contests so far this season.

He’s basically day to day. I don’t think it’s serious, but he was too sore to come back. - Gallant

Just before the end of the period, Vincent Trocheck drew a tripping penalty off of Dmitry Orlov. The Panthers skated with the man-advantage for 30 seconds to end the first period, closing with a 10-to-6 advantage in the shots on goal department.

A minute into the second period, Jared McCann was called for hi-sticking John Carlson, negating the last 30 seconds of Florida’s penalty and giving the Caps an abbreviated power play. The Panthers killed that one and the next, a Shane Harper intereference call against Niklas Backstrom at the 5:46 mark.

Washington tied the score at even strength with 10:40 gone in the middle frame, on a TJ Oshie (5) snap-shot from the right face off circle past Roberto Luongo’s glove side. Alex Ovechkin (4) earned the lone assist on the play after breaking out on the rush and feeding eventual First Star Oshie with a perfect cross-ice feed.

Soon afterward, Aaron Ekblad was called for high sticking Marcus Johansson, giving the Caps their third power play of the period. The Panthers were equal to the task, mostly due to Luongo’s acrobatics between the pipes. The Capitals outshot the Panthers by an 18-to-4 margin in the period.

It happened in the second period really. We had a lead and things happen. Every game we have a lead and we just give up easy goals. We don't battle that hard when we get a lead. We feel like that's it, and when we get a lead we need to battle hard and get a bigger lead or just play our own game. - Florida forward Aleksander Barkov

Two minutes into the third period, Johansson high-sticked Ekblad, perhaps in retaliation for the second period penalty. Regardless of why it happened, the Panthers soon afterwards took advantage with the extra skater on a Reilly Smith (2) backhander just 32 seconds into the power play. Trocheck (2) and Jason Demers (5) got the assists on the play.

Florida’s lead was short lived though. Second Star Ovechkin (7) evened the score at the 8:42 mark by tipping a Brooks Orpik (3) shot from the point. Nate Schmidt (8) earned the other assist on the play, while Orpik was eventually named the third star for the game.

Oshie (6) lit the lamp for the second time at 10:58 to give the Caps a 3-2 lead. He skated into the zone high on the right, charging Luongo and roofing the puck high on the glove side. Backstrom (8) and Schmidt (4) each earned their second assist of the game on the play.

In the midst of the Panthers attempting to launch a furious assault on Braden Holtby’s crease, the Caps doubled their advantage with a Lars Eller (2) wrister on Luongo’s doorstep, again on the glove side. John Carlson (5) and Andre Burakovsky (4) got the helpers on the final goal of the night. The Caps outshot the Panthers, 12-to-10 in the final period.

We knew if we’re going to put pressure on the defense and have traffic in front of the net, we’re going to get success. - Ovechkin

Elephants and Donkeys

The loss drops the Panthers to 5-6-1, or five wins in 12 games, a .458 points percentage. Last season (which ended in 103 points, btw) they were 5-4-3. They were eventually an 8-9-4 squad before lighting the NHL on fire and going 39-17-5 the rest of the way. Just wanted to remind the doomsayers who lurk at LBC that the sky is not quite yet falling.

Petrovic had 17 points in 66 games last season, and is this season on pace for 27. Technically, this is Petro’s fifth NHL season, but last night was just his 124th game.

Luongo looked just fantastic through the second period, playing at an all-world level for most of the frame. It’s a shame he couldn’t get more protection from the blue-liners in the third period, as his magic just kind of ran out. The loss dropped him to 3-5-0 on the season, with a .908 save percentage.

Luongo was outstanding. The first period we played a great period on the road against a great team. The second period, he probably made five unbelievable saves to keep it close, and then, obviously, in the third period they got a couple goals there that we again made some mistakes on. - Panthers coach Gerard Gallant

Jonathan Marchessault, who leads the Cats with 12 points (six goals and six assists) didn’t earn a point for the third time in the last five games.

Florida’s hot-and-cold special teams play was hot, for the most part. The power play was one-for-two, and the penalty kill was a perfect four-for-four. The power play for the season now stands at eight-for-45, a 17.8% success mark that ranks the Panthers just a point below the NHL average. The penalty kill is now successful 80.6% of the time, also just a point below the league average.

The Panthers won the blocked shots category 15-to-7, but lost in the hits department, 17-to-11. The Caps also won 55% of the faceoffs. The only Panther above 50% was Malgin, who won 80% of his draws for the night.

Next up for the Panthers, a home matchup on Monday against the mighty Bolts of Tampa Bay. Join us here in the GameThread around 7ish (or 6ish central, etc.)