In what was a meaningless game, the Panthers defeated the Washington Capitals by a score of 2-0 to close out their season.
The Capitals entered the night having already clinched the President’s Trophy while the Panthers merely affected their draft position with a victory.
With what should be an interesting off-season looming, the Panthers got two goals and 33 saves from James Reimer to secure a victory in game 82.
There have been tons of ups and downs, but at this point, all the Panthers could’ve asked for was to end the season on a high note.
They did exactly that as they earned shutouts in consecutive games on the back of Reimer. It was the second time in the 29-year olds career that he recorded shutouts in back-to-back games, although the last time it happened was over 5 years ago with the Maple Leafs.
Derek MacKenzie scored his second shorthanded goal of the season on a breakaway snap shot to put the Panthers on the board in the 2nd period, and Denis Malgin made it 2-0 on the power play with his second marker in the last three games.
Malgin’s quick shot from a soft spot in the Capitals’ coverage squeaked through Phillip Grubauer, who replaced Brayden Holtby at the start of the 3rd period.
With Michael Sgarbossa out of the lineup after suffering an injury on Saturday, the Panthers rolled out 8 defensemen with Jason Demers and Jakub Kindl playing on the 4th line with Derek MacKenzie.
Sam Brittain was recalled from the AHL on an emergency basis to serve as Reimer’s back up with Reto Berra leaving the team to tend to personal matters.
The Panthers, who beat the Hurricanes 5-2 one year ago today to reach the 103-point mark in the final game of the 2015-16 season, managed just 81 points this season, a 22-point decrease.
Sunday’s win was just the 7th in the final 24 games for the Panthers and second in the last 13 games overall in Washington.
Tom Rowe took over the coaching reins from Gerard Gallant in late-November and guided the Panthers to a 24-26-10 record in 60 games despite the lineup being healthy for a good part of it.
Rowe is expected to be relieved of his coaching duties in the not-too-distant future, although it’s likely that he could remain with the organization in some capacity.
It’s unclear what other front office and organizational changes will be made, if any, but with the expansion draft looming, among other things, it’s likely next season’s roster will be slightly different from what the Panthers ended this year with.
The Panthers will be holding their annual exit day on Tuesday where players and team staff will meet with the media to discuss the season.
Stay tuned to COTP throughout the summer for continued coverage of the Panthers.