Panthers' Bjugstad keeps cool in historic 20-round SO win over Capitals

BY foxsports • December 16, 2014

SUNRISE, Fla. -- In the longest shootout in NHL history, the Florida Panthers defeated the Washington Capitals 2-1 in an unforgettable night at the BB&T Center.

In a now-historic series of events that walked the line between unbridled intensity and frustratingly comical, the Panthers and Capitals needed an NHL-record 20 rounds in the shootout to decide a winner on Tuesday night.

The Panthers were down to their last shot five times in the shootout -- and each time they answered back to keep the game alive. In all, the Panthers converted on 6-of-20 attempts in the skills competition with goals from Jussi Jokinen, Dave Bolland, Derek MacKenzie, Sean Bergenheim, Dylan Olsen and Nick Bjugstad, who scored the game-winning goal in the 20th frame.

"I came from the other side the first time and it didn't work out," said Bjugstad, who missed his first attempt in the second round. "I actually saw another guy do it before me so I thought it might work out."

As the shootout progressed, Bjugstad began to question if he may actually be given a shot at redemption.

"I asked (Panthers assistant coach John Madden) at about (round) 10 if they end up going through it again," Bjugstad said. "I didn't think it would happen, it was kind of a hypothetical question, and it happened."

When the 20th round arrived, Bjugstad got his chance.

Yet, with a place in NHL history on the line, Bjugstad maintains that he kept his cool as he faced down Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby with the puck on his stick.

"The pressure wasn't really on me, which was nice because I didn't have to score," Bjugstad said. "I kind of relaxed, took a deep breath and tried going in there with confidence and it worked out."

The Panthers broke the previous record for the longest shootout in NHL history set when Marek Malik beat Olaf Kolzig to give the New York Rangers a victory over the Washington Capitals in 15 rounds on Nov. 26, 2005.

Derek MacKenzie, who scored the Panthers' only goal in regulation and once again in the 10th round of the shootout, said that as the team began to run out of shooters, they also ran out of good luck charms.

"There's a few of us that have a few things that we do for good luck, and I can tell you that we ran out of our good luck charms," MacKenzie said. "We were at the mercy of whatever was happening out there."

The Panthers are now 4-9 in games decided after regulation and 3-4 in shootouts.

Could this historic night be a turning point for the upstart Panthers? Possibly.

But for now, with Wednesday's practice cancelled in the wake of Tuesday's events, the team will be given some extra time to sit back and enjoy this one before getting back to work.

You can follow Jameson Olive on Twitter @JamesonCoop or email him at JamesonOlive@gmail.com.



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