Washington Capitals goalie Brent Johnson (1), right, blocks a shot by Florida Panthers' Nathan Horton (16) in the second period of a hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
The Panthers left the BankAtlantic Center ice Saturday evening to a chorus of boos.
“And they had every right,” said defenseman Bryan Allen of the fans. “It was embarrassing.”
Dull from the start and sloppy to the end, the Panthers lost to the Capitals here 2-1. To put it succinctly, the Panthers were outworked by the worst team in the Eastern Conference on their home ice. To make matters worse, the Capitals came to Sunrise having played and lost Friday night in Carolina.
The loss didn’t set well with anyone.
“That team played last night, travel all night, and come to our building and outwork us – it’s embarrassing,” said Olli Jokinen.
“The effort wasn’t there,” said GM and coach Jacques Martin. “They beat us to the puck, they were more hungrier than us. The bottom line in this league is every night you have to go to war and our guys did not want to pay the price.”
Added goalie Tomas Vokoun, who faced a whopping 43 shots; “I still can’t believe it. It’s hard to say anything. It’s all of us.”
As they did Thursday against the Bruins, the Panthers came out flat against the Capitals and it cost them just 3:53 into the game when a shot from defenseman Brian Pothier from the right point sneaked through Vokoun’s pads and into the net.
Outshot 16-7 in the first period against the Bruins, the Panthers were outshot by the Capitals 16-7 in Saturday’s first period and, through 40 minutes, 33-15. It was a puzzling and disappointing start for a team a game away from .500 and coming off a loss.
"That team played last night, travel all night, and come to our building and outwork us – it’s embarrassing,” - captain Olli Jokinen.
Stat of the Game
Despite giving up two goals in the loss, Tomas Vokouin had a .953 save percentage, stopping 41 of the 43 Capitals shots he faced.
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1. Alexander Ovechkin
2. Brent Johnson
3. Branislav Mezei
The Panthers had trouble holding on to the puck (12 giveaways) and stopping the Capitals from cycling in their own end. And with defenseman Jassen Cullimore out of the game with a sore knee after colliding with Donald Brashear in the first period, the Panther defensemen were continually under the gun.
The score could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for Vokoun. After allowing the first goal, Vokoun made a big save in the opening minute of the second period on Matt Pettinger and another on Brashear in the final seconds of that period.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the ice, Capital goalie Brent Johnson, 1-4-1 on the season and starting for the first time since Nov. 16 in place of Olie Kolzig, was comfortable throughout and robbed Nathan Horton with a glove save at 13:41 of the second period.
Despite their play, the Panthers tied the game at one at 2:49 of the third period when Jokinen won a faceoff cleanly and played it back to Branislav Mezei, who wristed a shot past Johnson for his first goal of the season.
But the Panthers had little life on this night. Less than two minutes after Mezei tied the game, Alex Ovechkin scored his 20th goal of the season when he managed to get a shot through Vokoun and the goal post from just above the goal line.
The Panthers had chances in the waning seconds with Vokoun pulled for an extra skater, but the Capitals blocked the Panthers from getting the puck on goal.
“Guys didn’t want to pay the price,” Martin said. “Good example, in the last four seconds we get a couple chances and they block shots. How many blocked shots did they do tonight versus us?”
The Capitals had 20 blocked shots, the Panthers seven.
“It’s unacceptable and we have to be more accountable to each other,” Allen said. “For whatever reason, we weren’t half as good as we should have been.”
Asked if the Panthers took the Capitals seriously enough after beating them three consecutive times in the last two weeks, Allen replied; “Maybe. It’s a tough question. It’s an answer you wish you had, but I think it’s bearing down, taking preparation seriously and coming ready to work.”
The Panthers have until Wednesday to work out the kinks and kick start some of their forwards, particularly Jozef Stumpel (one goal in 15 games) and Horton (two goals in 15 games). The Panthers will play host Wednesday to Eastern Conference leaders Ottawa and then Friday the high-flying Islanders.
Stephen Weiss did not dress due to illness. Martin said he expected Weiss to be back in the lineup Wednesday against the Senators.
1 - 0 WSH
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 WSH