Capitals slip past Panthers 3-2 in shootout
For a weekend at least, the Washington Capitals adjusted nicely
to life without Alex Ovechkin.
With their star forward out for a second straight night with an
unspecified upper-body injury, Washington won its second game in a
row with a 3-2 a shootout victory over the Florida Panthers on
After Tomas Fleischmann forced overtime with a game-tying,
4-on-3 goal with 2:38 left in the third period, the Capitals
recovered with shootout tallies by Mikhail Grabovski, Brooks Laich,
and the clincher by Nicklas Backstrom.
After Laich’s shootout score on Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen,
which appeared to come as he lost the puck, Washington goalie
Michal Neuvirth made the biggest of his 31 saves, catching Jonathan
Huberdeau’s attempt with his glove. Backstrom then ended it with a
clean shot to the left side.
”Tonight was an ugly one,” Backstrom said. ”Neuvy played
great and kept us in the game.”
Neuvirth finished with 31 saves. Clemmensen had 21.
One of the players most relieved by Backstrom’s deciding shot
was defenseman Steve Oleksy (seven blocked shots), who committed
the slashing penalty that paved the way for Fleischmann’s goal. The
score ended Washington’s string of successful penalty kills at 35,
with five coming Saturday night
”You can’t have that. Steven knows that. You can’t lose your
cool,” Washington coach Adam Oates said. ”Fortunately, the
shootout bailed him out.”
Florida lost its fifth straight, but showed improvement from its
listless 4-0 loss Friday night at home to St. Louis.
”I think we stepped in a good direction tonight,” Fleischmann
said. ”We played like a team, pretty good all 60 minutes and I
think that’s how we get our two points next game.”
Ovechkin had scored 10 goals in 12 games before he was hurt in
the first period Monday at Vancouver. The Capitals have outscored
opponents 10-2 without him, but Saturday’s win wasn’t nearly as
easy as Friday’s 7-0 domination of the Philadelphia Flyers.
”You’re still patching the dike in a sense. You don’t want to
lose anybody, let alone your star,” Oates said. ”It proves your
team is still a solid hockey team.”
Washington broke on top late in the first period with a
fast-break goal that Backstrom started and finished. After winning
a faceoff at the red line, he received a lead pass from Eric Fehr
and fired a 15-foot shot through Clemmensen’s legs. With the score,
Backstrom replaced Ovechkin as the team leader in points with
Winchester tied it at 8:20 of the second period on a breakaway
goal, but Carlson answered 36 seconds later for Washington.
Fourth-line center Michael Latta got his first NHL assist in
helping Carlson score the first goal for a Washington defenseman in
”We need offense from our (defense). Every team does,” Oates
said. ”You could tell by his celebration how much it meant to
NOTES: The Capitals have a 13-8-2 record in games missed by
Ovechkin. … A night after brawling with the Philadelphia Flyers
at the end of their 7-0 win, the Caps were involved in more
conventional tussle as Marcel Goc of the Panthers went after Latta
after the Washington rookie elbowed Fleischmann, Florida’s top
scorer. … Washington’s Marcus Johansson took what appeared an
inadvertent stick to his chin in the third period.