In the fifth matchup of a six game homestand, the Washington Capitals fell to the Florida Panthers in a scrappy 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday.
Before tonight, five of the Caps’ past home games were decided by one goal. Though Christian Djoos’ return gave the team a jolt of speed, the constant give-and-take came back to haunt Washington this time around.
The first period shaped up to be uneventful, with the Capitals failing to convert on their 15th power play of their current homestand. But once T.J. Oshie took a tripping minor, things started to get worrying.
As Oshie’s penalty expired, Frank Vatrano scored for the Panthers in a quick front-of-the-net scuffle. Thirty-five seconds later, Keith Yandle sent a wrister past Braden Holtby to give Florida a 2-0 lead over Washington.
Thanks to some great stick work from Michal Kempny, the Caps didn’t fall any further before the end of the first period.
Much like the first, the second period opened with a few bland minutes of play. Then Brett Connolly turned the tides by tipping in a shot from Andre Burakovsky to put the Caps on the board.
An unlucky bounce off Colton Sceviour’s stick found the back of the net to make it 3-1, putting the Caps back in a two-goal hole.
The Caps held on as the period continued and the pace of play picked up, matching the Panthers almost shot for shot on offense.
Lars Eller, who seems to have some kind of net-missing curse on his shots as of late, finally broke his bad luck streak to give the Caps the momentum they needed. The Capitals only trailed by one heading into the third period.
Unlike the first two frames, the third started with a bang. Derick Brassard scored only seven seconds into the period, but the Caps didn’t bat an eyelash, picking up at the same speed.
With his second goal of the game six minutes into the period, Connolly made it 4-3, and the Caps had a fighting chance. They took full advantage of it, and Evgeny Kuznetsov tied the game 4-4.
Unfortunately, Connolly’s end-of-game slashing penalty put the Caps at a disadvantage going into overtime, and Mike Hoffman sealed the victory for the Panthers.
One thing to take away: The Caps were fast and furious tonight, and the pile-on of third line points was a good omen. The next step: padding their leads by more than one goal and holding onto them.