All Caps, No Cats: Washington Capitals vs Florida Panthers

Washington Capitals (16-4-5) vs Florida Panthers (12-6-5)

 

 Predicted Goaltender Record GAA / SV% / # SO
Washington CapitalsBraden Holtby11-2-42.85 / .908 / 0
Florida PanthersSergei Bobrovsky9-5-43.45 / .888 / 1

 

After a three-day break from action, the Washington Capitals will take on the Florida Panthers for the second time this season. Both the Capitals and the Panthers are riding a two-game losing streak, but it was Washington that emerged triumphant in a 5-4 overtime victory the last time these two teams met, just 20 days ago. Will Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin help Washington defeat Florida for a second time?


The Washington Capitals dropped their last game versus the Vancouver Canucks, as they lost 2-1 in the shootout at Capital One Arena. The Capitals defeated the Canucks in a shootout the first time they met, but this time, after seven rounds, it was Bo Horvat that would win it for Vancouver. Washington has found themselves playing past regulation five times in 11 games this November, and 10 times since the start of the season (NHL.com, Washington). The only scoring in this one came in the first period, with both goals for the Caps and the ‘Nucks coming before the 15-minute mark. Jakub Vrana tallied his 11th goal of the season at the 2:22 mark of the first period.

The Capitals received the first power play of the game, as Jake Virtanen went off for high-sticking. Unfortunately, the Caps’ currently cold power play was unable to add to their lead. The Canucks would receive back-to-back power plays, as Chandler Stephenson went off for interference at the 12:42 mark. In 64 games with Washington last season, Stephenson didn’t receive even a single penalty. A career high of eight penalty minutes came in 67 games during the 2017-18 season, but with just 21 games played this season, Chandler is already at six (HockeyReference). Vancouver was gifted a 5-on-3 opportunity after Richard Panik went off for tripping just 62 seconds into the first man-advantage. It could be argued that any player that weighs 170lbs soaking wet will fall when run into, and that Panik shouldn’t have been penalized for that, but alas. Elias Pettersson would tie the game with his 10th goal of the season at the 14-minute mark. That would conclude the scoring in regulation, but both teams would receive a handful of additional opportunities with the extra man to add to the score. The Capitals successfully killed off two more Canucks power plays in the middle frame, keeping the score tied at one goal each. Jonas Siegenthaler was called for hooking at 8:37 mark, and Lars Eller, also called for hooking, at the 16:20 mark. Washington would receive an opportunity with just under 50 seconds left in the second as Tyler Myers was called for interference, but the Capitals, who already lead the league in most post/crossbar shots, couldn’t seem to buy a goal. The only power play in the third came to Washington as Zack MacEwen was called for interference. This one would ultimately go to overtime, in which the Canucks received a power play. However, the overtime period expired without a winner, and like the last time these two met, the game would go to a shootout. It would take seven rounds for even a single skater to (conclusively) pot the puck past a goalie, as Lars Ellers’ 5th round shot attempt was washed out. Bo Horvat would finally solve Braden Holtby, and would win this one for Vancouver. Both Jacob Markstrom and Braden Holtby made 32 saves on 33 shots, and ended the night with a .970 save percentage (TheScore, VAN @ WSH). Braden Holtby is expected to start tonight for Washington.


The Florida Panthers last played on Sunday, where they ultimately lost to the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. The Panthers have lost their last two games, and are now 5-4-1 in their last 10, but still rank 2nd in the Atlantic Division, just behind the Boston Bruins. Buffalo received the first power play at the 11:31 mark as Aleksander Barkov went off for tripping. Last year’s Lady Byng winner has 12 penalty minutes in 24 games, essentially all but knocking him out of the running. The Panthers 13th ranked penalty kill successfully kept Buffalo off the board, but five minutes later Jeff Skinner gave the Sabres their first lead of the game. Just two minutes after Skinner’s goal, Zemgus Girgensons scored his 2nd of the season, giving Buffalo a two-goal lead heading into the second period. Jack Eichel would add to Buffalo’s lead at the 3:42 mark, before the Panthers scored their first goal of the game. Florida would receive their first power play as Eichel went off for hooking at the seven-minute mark, but would not convert. Noel Acciari cut the Sabres’ lead to two with his 5th goal of the season, but Victor Olofsson would re-establish that lead with just over five minutes remaining in the middle frame. Rasmus Dahlin would be called for slashing, and the Panthers would unsuccessfully try to cut Buffalo’s lead. The Panthers would convert on their third power play, as Henri Jokiharju was called for tripping, and Brett Connolly cut the Sabres’ lead in half. Girgensons would score his 2nd of the game with just about seven minutes remaining in the game, and even though Buffalo would go back on the penalty kill shortly thereafter, Florida would ultimately fail to make a successful comeback. Goaltender Sam Montembeault stopped 21 of 26 shots faced, and ended the night with a .808 save percentage (BUF @ FLA). Jonathan Huberdeau leads the Panthers with 30 points, but even more impressively, Florida boasts three players with at least 10 goals. Brett Connolly leads with 11 goals of his own, and Huberdeau and Evgenii Dadonov both have 10 (TheScore, Florida Panthers). Five of Dadonov’s goals have come on the power play, and one came versus the Capitals just 20 days ago. Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start for the Panthers, just as he did the last time the two teams played.

The Florida Panthers will be without MacKenzie Weegar (DTD, face) and Jace Hawryluk (OUT, upper body). Nicklas Backstrom is expected to miss a third straight game for the Capitals, but Nic Dowd is slated to play for the first time since November 13th (pending medical clearance). Backstrom practiced this morning in a non-contact jersey, which suggests he is making progress. Dowd skated with the team on Monday morning, and had been reinserted into the lineup in the 4C position. On Sunday, the Washington Capitals reassigned forward Mike Sgarbossa to the Hershey Bears, indicating that the team anticipates that Nic Dowd will be cleared to play. Carl Hagelin is not eligible to be activated off long-term injured reserve until December 2nd, but he skated with the team, no longer donning a baby-blue no-contact jersey.

Coverage of the game begins at 6:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 7:00pm.

 

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HockeyReference. (2019). Chandler Stephenson Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/s/stephch02.html.

NHL.com. (2019). Washington Capitals Schedule. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/capitals/schedule/2019-11-01/ET.

TheScore. (2019). Buffalo Sabres @ Florida Panthers. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/22088.

TheScore. (2019). Florida Panthers News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/13.

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