Washington Capitals-Florida Panthers: Florida Downs Listless Washington 5-3

Dave Nichols@@DaveNicholsDSPSenior Analyst IDecember 3, 2008


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. Donald Brashear did a great job drawing a tripping penalty with tough work down low and on the resulting power play Nicklas Backstrom made the Panthers pay for the transgression.  Attempting a pass across the crease, the puck redirected off Florida defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, resulting in Backstrom's sixth goal of the season.

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 to go through the Caps' crease in front of goalie Jose Theodore.
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, and he took the undeserved credit for the "own goal."

Florida's second goal was a redirect as well, as defenseman 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 game penalty.

Steckel and Fehr's poor plays were indicative of the Caps' performance last night. Despite their rash of injuries, until now the Caps have been able to hide their inconsistent and ragged play, which 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 team's 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.

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 the first in their past 16 home games dating back to last season.

Defenseman Sami Lepisto has scored a point in three of his four games.

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



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