The matchup: The matchup: In their final game before the month-long Olympic break, the Mystics rocked The New York Liberty on their home court. Since then, Washington has struggled mightily to win anywhere.The Mystics (5-24) look to snap an eight-game losing streak and win only their second road game of the season Wednesday in Newark, where the Liberty (12-17) are playing their home games this season. Based on how the team has played during the second half of the season and particularly during the past two games, which sounds like a daunting task. Washington lost to Los Angeles and Atlanta by an average of 26.5 points and dropped seven of 10 post-Olympic games by at least 12 points.Cappie Pondexter, the WNBA's third leading scorer with 20.3 points per game, leads a Liberty squad tied with Chicago for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. New York, coming off an upset win over Los Angeles, has taken two of three against Washington this season, including a 79-73 revenge home victory on Sept. 1 behind 20 points from Essence Carson and 16 by Pondexter. Washington committed 17 turnovers.In the recent meeting Monique Currie scored 20 points and Crystal Langhorne, the Mystics leading scorer and rebounder on the season, had 19 points and 8 rebounds. After Wednesday's meeting the teams will wrap up the season series Sunday at the Verizon Center.Last time out: Just when it appeared things could not get worse for the Mystics, coming off a 28 point home loss to the Sparks, Washington endured a 93-68 beating by Atlanta on Sunday. The Dream shot 58 percent from the field while holding the Mystics, the WNBAs lowest scoring team, to a 36.5 percent clip (23 of 63). Crystal Langhorne and Noelle Quinn each scored 12 points for the Mystics, who once again coughed away possession after possession, committing 17 turnovers. Langhorne loves Liberty: The 6-foot-2 power forwards scoring has dipped this season over her previous campaign for the first time during her five-year WNBA career but thats certainly not been the case against New York. After posting a career-high 18.2 points per game in 2011, Langhorne is averaging 15.3 points despite shooting a robust 56 percent from the field. Some blame lies with her free throw shooting; the former University of Maryland star is making only 64.3 percent of her attempts, Langhornes lowest since her rookie season. Against the Liberty, the points are flowing. Langhorne has twice scored 24 points and is averaging 22.3 points in three games against New York this season while making 9 of 11 free throws (81.8 percent).
Christian Djoos scored his second goal of the season, but it wasn’t enough for the turnover and penalty prone Caps, who surrendered the game’s first three goals and fell, 4-1, to the Panthers at Capital One Arena.
Two of Florida's goals came on the power play as the Caps formed a single file line to the penalty box. In fact, they were assessed six minors in the opening 33 minutes of the game—the second in two nights for both clubs.
My three stars of the game.
The 24-year-old second line center finished with a goal and an assist to help the Panthers earn just their third win in their last 14 visits to Washington. Trocheck’s second period strike—on a 5-on-3 power play with Lars Eller and Nicklas Backstrom both in the box—put Florida ahead 3-0.
The rookie Dman potted his second goal of the season at 15:23 of the middle frame with the type of nice, patient move you’d expect from a veteran. He walked the puck off the wall through the circle and into the slot before sniping a shot past Reimer’s glove. Djoos—who was saluted by the fans with a ‘Djoooooooooos’—is the only Caps’ blue liner to score this season.
Although the Caps didn’t have many Grade-A opportunities, they did make Reimer put in a full day’s work. The 29-year-old stopped 41 shots, including all 13 he faced in a frantic third period as Washington pushed to pull closer. Reimer, who will assume No. 1 duties while starter Roberto Luongo recovers from a hand injury suffered Friday, came into the night with a .880 save percentage and a 4.12 goals against average.
Do you agree? Give us your thoughts in the comments.
It’s a busy hockey weekend for the Caps. After a 4-3 win in Detroit on Friday, Washington returns to Capital One Arena for the quick turnaround against the Florida Panthers (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Washington).
Let’s get bold and make some predictions!
Ovi scores multiple times #bookit— Ethan Noone (@enoone55) October 21, 2017
Let’s simplify this one to say Alex Ovechkin will score at least twice. A very bold prediction even for a player already with 10 goals in just eight games.
The Caps will give up <2 goals.— Greg Christian (@charmcitygreg) October 21, 2017
The Capitals’ defense is a concern, but the past two games give hope that perhaps the team has turned things around. After holding Toronto to only one goal plus an empty-netter, they followed that up with a fairly solid effort allowing three goals to the Red Wings on the road in Detroit. With this game in Washington, the Caps will get the second line change, but they also will be going up against a Florida team scoring 3.33 goals per game, tied for ninth in the NHL.
All four lines will get a goal tonight! Bold enough for you?— Lisa Desabrais (@LisaDesabrais) October 21, 2017
Yes, Lisa. Yes it is. Love it.
MORE CAPITALS: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-PANTHERS
The Caps will score at least two power play goals
The Panthers are dead last in the league on the penalty kill with a paltry 68-percent. Penalties matter a lot in today’s NHL with referees calling penalties for…pretty much anything. The Caps will get their opportunities and they will make them count.
There will be a fight
Roberto Luongo was injured in Friday’s game, the Panthers are on the road playing the second leg of a back-to-back and have won only two of their first six games. Tempers will flare at some point Saturday. Whether it is because someone gets too close to goalie James Reimer, there’s a hit they don’t like or they are just plain grumpy, someone on Florida is going to want to drop the gloves and will find a willing partner in red.
Philipp Grubauer will log a save percentage of over .900
Grubauer established himself as one of the top backup netminders in the league and a possible budding starter with a dominant 2.04 GAA and .926 save percentage last season. In two games this season, Grubauer has posted save percentages of .900 and .784. He will look a lot more like last season’s Grubauer against Florida.
Want to see your tweet among the fan predictions for the next game? Tweet your prediction to @JJReganNBCS every game day! Remember, we don’t just want to know who will win or the score, we want to see specifics. Be bold!