Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 5-2 loss to the Florida Panthers Tuesday night in their first game back since the NHL All-Star break:
How it happened: The Panthers scored on four of their first 13 shots against Philipp Grubauer, including a deflating bad-angle goal by Vincent Trocheck 21 seconds into the second period that made it 3-0. Jonathan Huberdeau scored two of the Panthers’ goals and picked up an assist on Aleksander Barkov’s power play goal to send the Panthers into the second intermission with a 4-0 lead. The Caps clawed back with quick-strike goals by Nicklas Backstrom (:34) and Andre Burakovsky (1:53) to start the third period, but Florida goaltender Al Montoya was strong down the stretch to earn the win. Panthers center Quinton Howden finished things off with an empty-netter with 1:53 to play.
What it means: The defeat marked just the second time all season the Caps have lost back-to-back games. Since Wednesday night’s loss against Philadelphia was in overtime, they still have not lost back-to-back games in regulation. If the season ended today the Caps would face the eighth-seeded Penguins in the opening round of the playoffs.
Missing Ovi: With Alex Ovechkin serving a one-game suspension for missing Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game, the Caps went 1-for-8 on the power play. In the only other game Ovechkin missed this season on Oct. 13 against the San Jose Sharks (oversleeping) the Caps lost 5-0 and went 0-for-4 on the power play. So, overall, they have been outscored 9-2 and are 0-for-12 on the power play without Ovechkin this season.
Kuz-tastic: Evgeny Kuznetsov assisted on both Capitals goals and now has 14 points (2 goals, 12 assists) in his last seven games.
Quick change: After starting the game with Stan Galiev on the Caps’ top line, coach Barry Trotz abandoned that plan and went with Jason Chimera on his top unit.
Chorney does not return: Caps defenseman Taylor Chorney left the game before the start of the third period with flu-like symptoms and did not return.
Whistle happy: In the first period, referees Justin St. Pierre and Eric Furlatt combined to call eight penalties, resulting in just 10:47 of 5-on-5 play.
How old is Jagr? Panthers right wing Jaromir Jagr will turn 44 on Feb. 15. When he played his first NHL game on Oct. 7, 1990, eight Capitals players were not even born: Dmitry Orlov, Philipp Grubauer, Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Stan Galiev, Andre Burakovsky, Nate Schmidt and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Marcus Johansson was one day old.
What’s next: The Caps will practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Wednesday and complete their extended five-game homestand (two of which have not been played) on Thursday night when the Islanders visit Verizon Center. They follow with a pair of weekend day games: Saturday against the Devils in Newark and Sunday against the Flyers in Chinatown.