|@ Capitals (35-9-4)||0||0||2||2|
The Panthers got a few good shots in during the first five minutes of play, but the Capitals were really working Montoya hard and that was a bit worrisome. They would have an increased opportunity to do this because Erik Gudbranson was penalized for hooking. To make matters worse, there would be about 30 seconds of 5-on-3 because Barkov got a penalty for playing with an illegal stick. Thankfully, Oshie was sent to the box on a hooking call not long after to even the playing field a bit. In the end, all three penalties were killed, but it was not an easy task for either goaltender. Right after that, the Panthers started to turn things around. This began with a Jonathan Huberdeau goal assisted by Jaromir Jagr and Aleksander Barkov.
Right after the goal, the Caps went back on the advantage due to a Thornton goaltender interference call. This once again became a problem, especially when Dmitry Kulikov decided to get himself called for holding. Nicklas Backstrom was penalized for holding on Brian Campbell, so the Panthers were able to catch a bit of a break. With this, they killed all their penalties. Then, the Panthers would have the 5-on-3 advantage because Dmitry Orlov was penalized for slashing. The Panthers took full advantage of this and Aleksander Barkov scored a goal, assisted by Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau. Nick “Rotisserie Chicken” Bjugstad could not celebrate his assist for long because he was sent to the sin bin on an interference call. Some Montoya saves ended the frame. At the end of the period, the Panthers led 2-0, even though they trailed in shots on goal 16-8. The Panthers played well this period but in order to stay on top against the best team in the NHL, they will need to stay out of the penalty box. A few more shots on goal would be nice too.
All it took was 21 seconds into the period to give the Panthers their magical third goal. Vincent Trocheck scored a goal on a wide angle shot that was unassisted. However, this did not stop the Capitals’ domination in shots on goal, nor did it end the Panthers’ penalties. Logan Shaw was the subject this time, after tripping Nicklas Backstrom. Some scrappy plays by Derek MacKenzie allowed the Panthers to kill the penalty. Montoya was absolutely on fire in the first half of the second period and even beyond that. With 5:29 left in the period, the Panthers got another power play opportunity when Jason Chimera was penalized for boarding. The Panthers were able to capitalize on the advantage yet again. Jonathan Huberdeau scored a goal assisted by Reilly Smith and Nick Bjugstad. The Panthers went back on the penalty kill and this time, it would be for four minutes because Derek MacKenzie was called for both hooking and unsportsmanlike conduct. At the end of the period, the Panthers led 4-0 but trailed in shots on goal in a big way 27-14. I’m going to say the same thing about this period as I did about the last. The Panthers played well but needed more discipline and to shoot more.
Montoya just can’t ever get a shutout, can he? Nicklas Backstrom scored 34 seconds into the final frame to put the Caps on the board. The Capitals were on fire and there was no stopping them this period. The Panthers just weren’t prepared. Just over a minute later, the Caps struck again. Andre Burakovsky scored this one. The four goal lead was nice while it lasted. Playing the full 60 minutes is extremely important in a victory, and the Panthers were certainly feeling that at this point in the game. They couldn’t even get a shot on goal for the first ten minutes of the period. The Panthers started to pick up the pace after that and Jonathan Huberdeau nearly got his first career hat trick, but the Caps still doubled them in shots on goal. Thankfully, the game was winding to an end and the Panthers still held a two goal lead. Quinton Howden scored on the empty net to seal the deal. The Panthers won this game 5-2.
Jonathan Huberdeau opened the scoring in this game and also assisted the Aleksander Barkov power play goal, which deserves commendation. Aleksander Barkov assisted Huberdeau’s first goal. Huberdeau also scored the 4th goal of the game and Nick Bjugstad assisted it, just as he assisted the Barkov goal. Vincent Trocheck scored a beautiful wide-angle goal as well. Al Montoya certainly did not have an easy game, but he should be praised for making nearly 40 saves tonight.
The Panthers will head home to the BB&T Center to face the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday, February 4th at 7:30 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.