Game 25 Review: Panthers Down Listless Caps 5-3

Posted by Dave Nichols | Wednesday, December 03, 2008 | , , , , | 0 comments »

After several weeks of playing short-handed due to multiple injuries, it finally caught up to the Washington Capitals in a 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers last night, one of the lowest scoring teams in the league, missing two of their three top scorers themselves.

Washington was lethargic from the opening face-off, but managed to jump on the board first. After Donald Brashear did a great job drawing a tripping penalty with tough work down low, Nicklas Backstrom made the Panthers play for the transgression with his sixth goal of the season, a shot that redirected off Florida D Jay Bouwmeester.

Unfortunately, the Caps stopped skating after that goal, maybe surmising that one goal would be enough to stop the offensively challenged Panthers. That, obviously, was not the case.

Redirected pucks would be a recurring theme for the evening.

The second period was all Florida, and they got plenty of help from the depleted and inexperienced Washington blue liners. Ville Peltonen walked in alone and lifted a soft shot past goalie Jose Theodore to tie the game at 6:19, his fourth of the season. The next two goals were as strange as they were inexcusable.

With Alex Ovechkin off for goaltender interference, David Steckel attempted a cross ice pass in his own end, but instead of going behind the goal, he attempted it through the crease. The puck hit rookie Karl Alzner's skate and slid undetected between Theodore's pads for the go-ahead tally. The play was uncontested by Florida, so Steckel had no one to blame but himself.

Bouwmeester was the last Panther to touch the puck, getting undeserved credit for the "own goal."

Florida's second goal was a redirect as well, as D Bryan McCabe's power play shot from the point was deflected twice, off both Boyd Gordon and Shaone Morrisonn. The extra-man situation arose when Eric Fehr lazily lofted a clearing attempt off the ice for a delay of the game penalty.

Steckel and Fehr's poor plays were indicative of the Caps' performance last night. Despite the rash of injuries, until now the Caps have been able to hide the inconsistent and ragged play one would expect from a team playing without six to eight of their regular players. But there were enough turnovers, bad passes and miscommunication last night to make up for a week's worth of good play, and Coach Bruce Boudreau was not happy with the effort after the game.

The Caps added late third period goals from Viktor Kozlov (4) and Tomas Fleischmann (10) to draw within one, but an empty netter from Greg Campbell with one minute remaining sealed their fate.

Photos (c) C. Nichols 2008

WAS: Backstrom (6) from Fleischmann and Lepisto (1-15:57-PP); Kozlov (4) from Backstrom and Morrisonn (3-16:11); Fleischmann (10) from Ovechkin and Kozlov (3-17:02-PP)

FLA: Peltonen (4) from Radek and Dvorak (2-6:19); Bouwmeester (3) unassisted (2-7:28-PP); McCabe (4) from McLean and Frolik (2-12:09-PP); Dvorak (3) from Campbell and Peltonen (3-4:45); Campbell (5) from Skrastins (3-19:00)

1. V. Peltonen - FLA (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)
2. R. Dvorak - FLA (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)
3. N. Backstrom - WAS (Goals: 1, Assists: 1)

The loss was Washington's first regulation loss at home of the season and first in their past 16 home games dating back to last season.

D Sami Lepisto has a point in three of his four games played this season.

With a goal and assist, Fleischmann pulled into a tie with Mike Green as the team's fourth leading scored with 16 points (10 goals, 6 assists).