Letting One Get Away
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
SUNRISE – When it was suggested Friday evening that the Panthers 4-1 loss to the Capitals was due to their inability to get a single shot on goal during a five minute, man advantage in the third period, coach Peter DeBoer would have none of it.
The game is 60 minutes, DeBoer reasoned, not five. And the game is decided in corners, along the boards and battling for loose pucks.
“They won every loose puck battle all game,” said DeBoer, whose club fell to 5-8-1. “The five minute power play? We might be able to convince ourselves that was the difference in the game, but that wasn’t the difference in the game. There wasn’t a loose puck tonight that was up for grabs that we won. When you don’t do that, you’re not going to win many games.
“They were hungrier in the tough areas tonight than we were. There’s no excuse for that.”
Riding a three-game winning streak and playing a Capitals team on a three-game skid and without Alex Ovechkin (shoulder) and Mike Green (lost to an upper-body injury early in the game), the Panthers couldn’t capitalize on their early scoring chances and the Capitals buried nearly all of theirs throughout the game.
“We had our chances in the first,” said Cory Stillman
. “That’s one game we let slip out of our hands.”
The Panthers, who came out strong in the opening minutes, couldn’t bury their chances. There was a post hit by Kenndal McArdle
early in the first period and a shot by Nathan Horton that clipped Shaone Morrison’s stick and was then stopped by goalie Jose Theodore (27 saves). In the second period, Rostislav Olesz
was stopped on a breakaway by Theodore after receiving a beautiful pass from rookie Dmitry Kulikov
and minutes later denied again from in close.
Meanwhile, the Capitals didn’t miss on their chances. Tyler Sloan put the Caps in front 1-0 at 4:53 of the first period on a shot from between the faceoff circles and then Brendan Morrison scored the first of his two goals at 10:46 of the second period.
The game turned from bad to worse for the Panthers in the third period when Michal Repik was whistled for a suspect roughing call at 5:16. That led to a power play goal by Brian Pothier.
After Horton made it 3-1 on the power play five minutes later, Shaone Morrison took a five-minute power play and game misconduct at 11:42 for boarding McArdle. It could have been a game-changer. Instead, the Panthers flubbed and floundered and never could set up in the Capitals zone or get a shot on Theodore. Even thought the pulling goalie Tomas Vokoun during the power play for an extra attacker was taken from DeBoer’s plan because “it’s tough to pull the goaltender when your in your own end of the ice.”
“We didn’t get set up…that shouldn’t happen,” Stillman said.
“We have to be better,” Michael Frolik said. “We’re losing 3-1, have a five minute power play, and almost didn’t do anything. We’ve got to battle for the pucks. We (dumped) it in and they always have the pucks first and clean it out.”
DeBoer wondered for a moment what might have happened if the Panthers had scored on one of their earlier chances. “But the story of the game through 60 minutes is they won all the tough battles,” he said. “Even if we got one early, we can say that might have changed things but they were the hungrier team.”
The Panthers have 24 hours to learn from their mistake before playing the second of this home-and-home series Saturday against the Capitals at the Verizon Center.
“They’re a big strong team and we have to come prepared to get in the trenches with them,” he said. “We weren’t tonight.”
Vokoun’s shutout streak ended at 1:46.56, third longest in Panther history…DeBoer said he wouldn’t decide until Saturday whether he would play Vokoun or Scott Clemmensen in goal…Keith Ballard saved a goal in the first period by swiping the puck away from the goal line after it trickled behind Vokoun. Sloan did the same for Theodore in the third period…The Capitals Brian Pothier had three points on the night. He entered the game with one point in his previous 13 games…Best check of the night was Kulikov on Brooks Laich…Defenseman Bryan McCabe was honored before the game for playing his 1,000th game…Kamil Kreps sat out Friday’s game with a bruised foot so the Panthers called Repik up from their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in Rochester… Radek Dvorak (knee) continued skating Friday and said he hopes to be back next week…Dominic Moore (nasal surgery) also skated Friday morning…Olesz had six shots…McCabe led all Panther skaters with 23:24 of ice time…Pothier led all skaters with 25:20…David Steckel won nine of 11 faceoffs…Gregory Campbell had six hits…Ovechkin, who traveled with the Capitals, is not expected to start this evening in Washington...
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