Recap: Capitals @ Panthers, 10/31/15

Final 1st 2nd 3rd OT Total
Capitals (8-2-0) 0 0 1 1 2
@ Panthers (5-4-2)  0  1 0 0 1

First Period

  • The Panthers had an early powerplay and it looked good. They were cycling the puck for nearly the entire man advantage and got several good shots on goal. Dmitry Kulikov was at the right faceoff circle and sent two bullets for shots towards Philipp Grubauer, while Brandon Pirri got a good one-timer on net which is a positive considering he’s been fanning on shots and missing the net often this season. The Panthers pretty much dominated during that powerplay but had trouble sustaining pressure afterwards.
  • It seemed as though the Gudbranson – Mitchell pairing had trouble in their own zone during the first period. Both had two instances where they couldn’t clear the puck from the same defensive zone corner and ended up turning the puck over, and before that, Gudbranson mishandled the puck in front of the net as he prepared for a breakout and nearly fell over allowing the Capitals to steal the puck and get a shot up close on Montoya.
  • The Panthers had another power play late in the period, and while Bjugstad, Ekblad, and Kulikov got some good chances, they weren’t nearly as dominating as they were during the first man advantage.
  • Al Montoya came up big several times during the 1st period. He made some good saves on some point shots and robbed John Carlson on a backdoor try with under minute left to play.
  • While the Panthers got two calls to go their way, the referees still missed two blatant penalties; a high-stick to the face of Quinton Howden and a cross-check delivered to Brandon Pirri at the goal line.

Second Period

  • The period began with an Erik Gudbranson penalty for the Panthers, but the PK unit looked impressive as the Capitals spent most of the man advantage out of their zone.
  • The penalty kill ended with Alex Petrovic making a huge block with his right leg on a slap shot from Alex Ovechkin at the left faceoff circle. Petrovic was down on the ice for several seconds as the rest of the Panthers went the other way and Dave Bolland flipped the puck to Jussi Jokinen in the slot and he whacked it past Grubauer for the first goal of the game.
  • Jokinen would nearly score another later in the period as he picked up a loose puck in the slot and shot it right at the cross bar behind Grubauer.
  • Shortly after the Jokinen goal, Kulikov, Smith, and Bjugstad went in on a 3 on 2. Smith fed the puck to Bjugstad who went forehand-backhand but Grubauer stopped him as he got in tight.
  • Brandon Pirri got a chance of his own after he tapped the puck away from Evgeny Kuznetsov at the offensive zone blue-line and got in on a 2 on 1 with Vincent Trocheck, but Grubauer stopped Pirri on a shot attempt.
  • The Panthers killed off another penalty near the end of the 2nd period and once again, they looked strong. Al Montoya shut down Alex Ovechkin on a one-timer and then made a spectacular glove save as a Capitals player tried to put it in the net from the top of the blue paint.
  • Rocco Grimaldi has been skating all over the place. At one point, he got the puck in the offensive zone at the right faceoff circle and snuck between 2 Capitals players and put the puck just wide on Grubauer’s blocker side.

Third Period

  • The Capitals tied the game up early after a point shot deflected off a sprawled out Panthers play in the slot and found Jay Beagle at the left side of the net. Montoya was going opposite the puck and Beagle was able to tap it in off the goal line. Gerard Gallant used his coaches challenge to see if there was goaltender interference on the play, but the call on the ice stood and the Capitals kept their goal.
  • Things were fairly quiet after the goal and the subsequent review. There were some back and forth chances but nothing to speak of. The first half of the period saw most of the action in the Panthers’ zone.
  • The Panthers got a power play opportunity about 8 minutes into the period, but they had trouble entering the zone cleanly. Huberdeau nearly got in on a breakaway but the puck skipped off of his stick and into the corner.
  • Lots of fancy moves by the Panthers in the period. Bjugstad, Ekblad, and Trocheck all made some shifty plays with the puck to try to get around their defenders.
  • The Capitals essentially dominated the period when it comes to possesssion, and most of the final minutes of the period were spent in the Panthers’ own zone as the Capitals cycled the puck.

Overtime

  • The opportunities came too fast and I was too nervous to type anything about them.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov skated in on the left wing and scored short side on Al Montoya.

Wrap Up

Overall, the Panthers played OK tonight. Al Montoya was strong once again and the Panthers’ penalty killing efforts made a big difference tonight. The Panthers went 0-for-3 on the power play tonight and in the end, that hurt them a lot. They didn’t get as many chances as they would’ve liked to during OT, and the Caps pretty much dominated things near the end of the third period which limited opportunities for the Panthers. The Panthers started the game off well and matched up well with the Capitals despite their offensive prowess, but they couldn’t anymore scoring after the Jokinen goal and that left them vulnerable. While the Panthers kept Alex Ovechkin from scoring any goals and held him to just 2 shots, he did get two assists on the night and the second one led to the game-winning goal.

The Panthers will head on the road to face the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday at 10:30 PM for the first game of a 3-game road trip. Be on the lookout for our preview and recap of that game.

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