The Djoos is loose once again in Capital One Arena! After missing 24 games due to injury, Christian Djoos was back in the lineup for the Caps. Both Braden Holtby and Roberto Luongo were playing milestone games in net tonight (400 career games for Holtby, 1000 career starts for Luongo), but only one of them would reign supreme and come away with the win. The Capitals were looking to extend their winning streak to three, but it was the Panthers who came out on top with a 5-4 OT victory.
Here’s Saturday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: The Capitals’ third line had quite the night. Brett Connolly (2G, 1A), Lars Eller (1G, 1A), and birthday boy Andre Burakovsky (2A) combined for seven points tonight, and they were absolutely buzzing all game long.
Minus: Intermittent periods of sleepy play and frequent trips to the penalty box (8 PIM) cost the Capitals the win tonight.
And now, this…
Ten more notes on the game:
1. The Panthers got close to scoring a few minutes into the game, but it was goaltender...Michal Kempny to the rescue? Yup, a Keith Yandle shot got past Braden Holtby, who had no idea where the puck ended up. Luckily, Kempny was there to swat the puck out of the crease, keeping the Panthers off the board for the moment.
2. TJ Oshie was called for tripping in the offensive zone just over halfway through the first period, sending the often-successful Panthers’ power play to work against the recently-stellar Capitals’ penalty kill. The Caps’ PK unit looked great on the ice, and they came out of the two minutes with better chances than the Panthers. However, one second after the power play expired, Frank Vatrano got Florida on the board with a wrister right in front of the net. Certainly not the start the Caps wanted.
3. 35 seconds later, Yandle gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead with a shot from the blue line. The puck deflected off Oshie and another Panthers’ player in front of the net before sliding past Holtby, who had no chance.
4. Five minutes into the second period, Brett Connolly got the Caps on the board with his 11th goal of the season. He redirected a feed from Andre Burakovsky in front of the net and cut the Panthers’ lead in half. This was Conno’s 27th point of the season, which ties the career-high he set last season. Did someone say #contractyear?
5. Four minutes later, on the Panthers’ first shot of the second period, Colton Sceviour restored Florida’s two-goal lead with a beautiful deflection of an Aaron Ekblad shot from the point. The tip completely fooled Holtby, and the Panthers were up 3-1.
6. With less than a minute to go in the second period, Lars Eller cut the Panthers’ lead back to one with a laser of a shot past Luongo after a beautiful play by Nic Dowd. This ended a 13-game goal drought for Eller, who hadn’t scored since January 4 in Dallas. Additionally, with a secondary assist on the goal, Brett Connolly set a new career-high in points (28).
7. The third period got off to an ugly start for the Capitals. Nicklas Backstrom won the opening faceoff but Michal Kempny couldn’t handle the puck, giving Evgenii Dadonov a breakaway. Holtby stopped it, but Derick Brassard scored on the rebound. This all happened in seven seconds.
8. Six minutes later, the Capitals’ third line was back at it again and Brett Connolly netted his second goal of the game, this time with assists from both of his linemates. This marks Connolly’s third career two-goal game and only his second career three-point night (his other one was 2/11/2016, when he tallied three assists).
9. With 3:07 left, Evgeny Kuznetsov tied the game for Washington on a sharp angle shot past Luongo after Dmitry Orlov sent a beautiful slap pass his way. Kuznetsov has turned up his offense lately, and he now has five goals and six assists in his last seven games.
10. With less than four seconds left in regulation, Connolly was sent to the box for slashing. Mike Hoffman was the one to capitalize on the man-advantage after 1:31 of overtime, and the Panthers walked away victorious. The Caps have now lost 4 straight games on home ice against Florida.
The Caps return to Capital One Arena on Monday night to face the LA Kings for the last game of their March homestand.
Something else to note: in his first game back with the Hershey Bears after being sent down to make room for Christian Djoos on the Caps’ roster, Jonas Siegenthaler scored his first goal of the season tonight. It was a beauty.