The thing about NHL games, even–and especially–if they’re between two teams that have both been struggling as of late, is that someone has to win in the end. When the final horn sounds, whether it’s after 60 minutes, 65 or 65 and a little more for a shootout, eventually someone will be the victor.
The problem for the Florida Panthers is that they were not the victors in last night’s match with the Washington Capitals, not by a long shot. After a week of games that were all decided one way or the other by just one goal, the team traveled to our nation’s capital to finish off their road trip and play the first half of a home-and-home with their Southeast Division fellows.
But the game was all Washington from start to finish and the struggling Capitals pulled out a 5-0 win.
Troy Brouwer scored twice, including on the power play. Joel Ward had a goal. So did captain Alexander Ovechkin. Mathieu Perreault added another one to total the final score. Even goaltender Braden Holtby put up an assist–on Brouwer’s second goal of the evening. Holtby, whose goals-against average was a horrible 4.74 before the game, is going to enjoy the boost in his stats that comes from this game for sure.
On the other end of the ice, Florida goalie Jose Theodore (who played for Washington once upon a time) was called for interference, then eventually replaced after allowing all five goals. In relief, Scott Clemmensen saw only four shots and stopped all of them. So, both goalies made an impact of some sort, but Holtby’s obviously meant quite a bit more.
For whatever reason, the Panthers tend to struggle in Washington. Maybe it’s an overabundance of red in the building between the home team’s sweaters, the red accents on Florida’s and all the home fans rocking the red. Maybe that explanation is too simple. Whatever it is, they’ve only won two of the past 11 meetings in the Verizon Center. Perhaps their only measure of relief, though, comes from the fact that they’re going home. Not only that, they’re going home and Washington is their next opponent on Feb. 12.