Capitals 2, Panthers 3
As close as the score may be, the Caps only played for two periods. Apparently after escaping the first period in good shape, they certainly did not show up in the second period. The Panthers outshot the Caps 28 - 6 in the second period (compared to the Capitals outshooting the Panthers 25 - 21 in the first and third periods), even forcing Brendan Witt and Steve Emminger to withstand an onslaught over 3 minutes in their defensive zone, not letting the Capitals change players. The Panthers also scored all of their goals on special teams, 2 powerplay goals, and a shorthanded goal that Juraj Kolnik capitalized on sloppy passing from from Jamie Heward.
Meanwhile, both goals by the Caps were at even strength. Alexander Ovechkin scored both goals, keeping his point streak alive through all 8 games this season. The Caps used their speed and fresh legs early, but only to relax after Ovechkin's goal at 1:50 into the game. The Caps couldn't even get the puck out of their zone, sloppy passes, bad dumps and miscommunication was a constant for the Caps.
Ovechkin's second goal was spectacular after the Florida defenseman slipped on the play and Ovechkin used his speed to get by the defender. It had looked like Roberto Luongo saved the initial shot, but it popped up over the goaltender and into the net. Capitals bright spot continues to shine.
Overall Grade: C-
The grade would have been much worse, if the Panthers were able to score at even strength, but they didn't (the new defensive system has to be working). In terms of 5 on 5 goals the Caps would have won 2-0. The Capitals do need to be more careful with their passes and breakouts. However the shots keep coming to the net, as Florida outshot the Caps 49-31. The Caps failed to win any one-on-one battles, and they were outworked and out hustled all night by a team that was supposedly tired.
Wash Post continues to harp the Capitals on their lack of defensive experience and Dave Fay hit the nail on the head at the Wash Times.
Caps need to improve on passing and breakouts. Then come to the realization that the game isn't over after the first goal.