Last night's Caps/Panthers tilt was definitely one of fits and starts. When it started, and they showed the goalie stats (Gru's save pct ten percent (not ten points, but actually ten percent) higher than Clemmenson's, I commented to my wife that the Caps ought to win by three, just based on that. Of course, I was forgetting how small the sample on Gru's stats is (mostly due to not noticing it being Gru until a moment later)).
Anyway, the game started out, and that seemed reasonable. Greenie had a goal disallowed when Erat tripped over Clemmenson's foot a second before the shot (although I think I watched it three times before I saw the contact, which says something about how disruptive it was). A minute later, the whistle was blown when the puck was on the ice behind Clem (OV tapped it in, not that it mattered).
Then it appeared things were going really well, as the Caps got a power play. But it was a pretty poor effort, as they were unable to maintain any zone time. And the next twenty minutes was pretty much all Florida, as they completely dominated possession. Actually, you could really say that the rest of the game was all Florida, as I don't think there was more than a shift or two for the rest of the game where the Caps really dominated.
Fortunately, Grubauer was killing it, and stopping just about everything. Despite shots being 16-7 in the first, the score was only one-nil. The second period was almost as bad, at 13-8, but thanks to some pretty wild penalties, the score ended up tied at two. And the third period didn't have a whole lot going on, as both teams were largely playing for the loser point (but still, shots were 9-6) and nobody managed to score.
That took it into overtime, which was end-to-end firewagon hockey (seven total shots on net), but again, no one was able to tickle the twine.
Which put the Caps back into a position with which they're very familiar: the shootout. It started out well for the Caps, as Fehr opened with a score, while Barkov was stopped. But then OV was also stopped. After that, the next five shooters scored. Then eleven (!) in a row were stopped before Kopecky won it for Florida.
All in all, a miserable game in which the Caps didn't deserve the standing point they got. It wasn't their worst of the season, by 5v5 Fenwick close, but it was probably their third worst (I can definitely think of two, anyway, although one of those was worse by less than a point).
And honestly, I'm a little surprised it was as close as it was. Gru had a fantastic game, and likely should have gotten the star of the game (thirty-nine stops). Dima might be the only skater for Washington to have had a good game (at least, he looked really good to me). Backstrom was also decent, as was Ward.
But the main point, of course, is that the Caps need to play more in the other end of the rink. They spent far, far too much time in their own D-zone, and had a lot of trouble clearing. Maybe those two good games really were just a mirage.
Things get a little tougher now, as a home-and-home against the Flyers in next. First, at home tomorrow at three. Go Caps!