Capitals powerless against Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. — Washington Capitals forwards Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin rank in the top 10 in the NHL in power-play goals.
Despite enjoying 11 power-play opportunities against the Florida Panthers last night, though, the two could hardly muster much production for the Caps.
The Panthers (20-23-10) were able to do so, though, and took home more than a 6-3 win over their Southeast Division foes in front of 11,300 at BankAtlantic Center. With it, the Panthers jumped to the 12th spot ahead of Washington and Boston in the Eastern Conference standings with 50 points. The Caps (21-24-7) are currently 13th with 49 points.
Semin and Ovechkin, who each have 13 power play goals on the season, were on the ice for a combined 24:46 during the Caps’ power-play opportunities. They were also on the same line in the second period when the Caps failed to score on a 5-on-3 power play.
The team’s failure to take advantage of the opportunities, along with lapses on defense, did the trick for the Panthers to get a leg up in the standings.
“It’s just a matter of getting our lines going. They had some opportunities on the power play and they just didn’t score,” Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. “Every night they’re not going to be the showcase line and that’s just the way it is.”
The Panthers had more than one showcase line. The one that gave the Caps more trouble, though, was the second line of Rostislav Olesz, Jozef Stumpel and Juraj Kolnik. Stumpel and Kolnik were on the same line on three of the Panthers’ goals and the three skated on the same line on two scores. Stumpel scored twice and had an assist while Kolnik had a goal and an assist. Olesz also contributed an assist.
Combined, the three finished with a plus-minus of 4.
“They have a lot of speed and cohesiveness. They’re doing the right things — they’re playing well together,” defenseman Jamie Heward said. “It’s just one of those things where you try to shut down their top line and their second line ends up scoring some goals for them.”
Despite the aggressiveness from Florida’s forwards, the Caps had a chance to tip the scales. They had a chance to tie it at 2-2 on the 5-on-3 power play and had four power-play opportunities in the third period.
After Florida’s Anthony Stewart was called for hooking at 2:17 in the second, Ruslan Salei was called for holding one minute, nine seconds later. That gave the Caps 51 seconds on the 5-on-3 and a total of four minutes on the 5-on-4. But poor shot choices and three deflections by Panthers’ Ed Belfour left them empty handed.
“It’s more demoralizing not scoring on the 5-on-3 than it is getting nighed 1-0 when you still have 40 minutes to play,” Hanlon said.
The Caps came within two, 5-3, in the third when Dainius Zubrus scored on a power play, but a goal by Florida’s Martin Gelinas at the 15:31 mark made the game well out of reach.
“They capitalized on a few chances early and put us back on our heels,” Heward said. “They seem to play pretty well against us.”