WASHINGTON -- The Capitals are back in the win column, ending a brief two-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Wednesday. The first 39 minutes of the game were relatively quiet with each team scoring only once. The real action was saved for the last minute of the second where both teams scored and then the third period where Washington scored twice to take the two-goal lead. Vincent Trocheck would pull Florida to within one with less than five minutes remaining, but the Caps held on.
Here is how Washington won.
Two early penalty kills
Radko Gudas was called for holding just over five minutues into the game, giving Florida's fifth-ranked power play an early opportunity. Just 32 seconds after Washington killed off the penalty, John Carlson was booked for delay of game as he shot the puck out of play.
In the first 10 minutes of the game, the Caps faced four minutes of power play time from one of the best units in the league. The penalty kill came up huge with two kills to keep Florida off the board.
Kuznetsov takes the defense with him
Evgeny Kuznetsov collected a Panthers' turnover in the neutral zone and broke the puck into the offensive zone. He came in on the right and cut through the middle of the offensive zone. As he did, three Florida players converged on him. That bought Ovechkin some room as Kuznetsov dropped the pass off. Anton Stralman stayed on Kuznetsov then wheeled to the front, Jonathan Huberdeau was a stop behind Ovechkin and Mark Pysyk saw he was in the middle and tried to overcorrect back to the left. Ovechkin cut through the middle of all of them and shot the puck through Sergei Bobrovsky's 5-hole.
Bobrovsky takes a poor angle
Late in the second period, the Caps were getting shut down on offense. They had only 11 shots on goal and were having trouble generating any sustained offensive pressure.
The game looked like it was headed to a 1-1 tie through 40 minutes, but Jonas Siegenthaler backhanded a puck up and out of the zone along the wall.
When Siegenthaler first got the puck, Panik made a break for it out of the defensive zone and was behind four of the Panthers' players when he received the dump-pass from Siegenthaler. He did not have a step on the defense and was forced to remain to the outside by Keith Yandle. Undeterred, Panik took aim and fired from the faceoff dot and managed to beat goalie Soregi Bobrovsky with an absolute snipe.
It was a great shot by Panik to place the puck exactly where it needed to go, but Bobrovsky took a poor angle showing Panik too much of the net on the far post. He knew it right away too as he slammed his stick on the ice in frustration as soon as the goal was scored.
The speed of Vrana and hands of Eller
As Lars Eller skated up the ice, Jakub Vrana streaked up the ice along the boards. Eller found him and he had enough of a step on the defense to get a nice shot away. Bobrovsky made the initial save and kicked out the huge rebound right to Eller. Eller got the puck on his backhand, but waited just slightly to get the puck around diving forward Frank Vatrano. That slight hesitation bought Eller the room he needed to backhand the goal into the net.
Gudas' great pass
Gudas had the puck in the defensive zone looking for the breakout. Brendan Leipsic was already moving along the wall cross-ice and Gudas found him with the nice pass. The pass hit Leipsic in stride allowing him to get a step on the defense. Leipsic tucked the puck through Bobrovsky's 5-hole with the nice backhand.
The Caps' puck management in this game was atrocious. Ill-advised passes and turnovers plagued the offense and made it difficult to generate any sustained pressure. That struggle was most evident in the shots on goal where Florida managed to get 40 shots in on Holtby. That made it a busy night for Holtby in net, but he was up to the task, turning aside 37 of those 40 shots he faced.
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