The Washington Times - February 2, 2012, 10:17AM

SUNRISE, Fla. | Soft goals allowed by Michal Neuvirth hurt the Washington Capitals pretty bad in a 4-2 loss to the Florida Panthers, but teammates didn’t blame the 23-year-old goaltender.

The worst was an 88-foot goal by Mikael Samuelsson.


“It’s not deflating at all. When does that happen? When was the last time you saw that, five years ago? Freak things like that are going to happen in a hockey game – a guy shoots from the red line, somehow it goes post and in,” forward Brooks Laich said. “There’s still 50 minutes left in the hockey game or whatever it is. We weren’t worried about that at all.”

The only goal Neuvirth allowed this season that was even possibly as bad came at Colorado on Dec. 15, when the puck fluttered in from the blue line. This time he saw it all the way but wasn’t in position.

“I thought he was going to go rim it. I was cheating a little bit, and he caught me,” Neuvirth said. “I was kind of on left post and I couldn’t get back in time.”

Neuvirth was disappointed in his giving up that goal but was not too hard on himself.

“It’s tough loss. I thought I had pretty good first period. After first goal, it wasn’t easy, but I thought I bounced back and I gave us a chance to win,” Neuvirth said. “It’s not easy. It never happen to me. It’s second time [this season]. It’s tough. But it is what it is. I was happy I bounced back after that bad goal.”

The second goal he allowed came off Samuelsson’s stick on the power play and went through Laich’s legs and then Neuvirth’s.

“I thought it hit something,” the young goaltender said. “I don’t know if it hit Brooks but I thought puck changed direction.”

Video replays seemed to indicate the puck did not change direction.

The third goal was a fluky bounce that Neuvirth said he didn’t even know how it got into the net. Stephen Weiss got credit for it, as the puck went in off his collarbone.

“I think we did an OK job bouncing back and it wasn’t like it really, really deflated us or anything,” defenseman Karl Alzner said about the soft goals. “We could do without those, but it’s going to happen. It happens to all of us.”

But Neuvirth’s first goal was still memorable, and not in a good way.

“Definitely everybody knows Neuvy would want it back. You don’t want to give up them,” coach Dale Hunter said. “It gives the other team energy. But it happens with goalies. They let long ones in.”