To briefly summarize the Washington Capitals’ 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers Friday, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. There’s a laundry list of concerns, but in the end the Caps got what matters: two points in the standings.
Let’s quickly run through the ugly.
Washington outshot the Panthers 41-23, limiting Florida to just four shots in the second period, but it wasn’t until the third period that those shots turned into goals.
The Caps drew a total of six penalties in the game, but converted only one of them in the third period on a wrist shot from Alex Ovechkin. Goalie Tomas Vokoun looked unsettled for much of the first period and Panthers goalie Jose Theodore was on the spot all night, leading to worries of another post-game “hot goalie, what can do you?” attitude.
So after all that ugly, what was pretty?
Well, how about seeing the team’s two superstar players, Ovechkin and Alex Semin, do what superstar players are supposed to do in important games?
Both players scored in their signature way; Ovechkin on the power play – where he’s been his most dangerous throughout his career – and Semin, who had the game-winning goal, with space to pick apart a goaltender.
It’s no secret that in previous seasons, the Capitals have been driven by their star power, but this year, that elite-level of play has been missing in some of the most important games of the season.
That’s partly because the Capitals are missing considerable talent from their lineup due to injury, but it’s been on Semin and Ovechkin to make up for it and neither has risen to the occasion when it seems to matter most.
To have them do it together in one game is, at least for a night, a glimmer of hope in a season filled with disappointment.
The only issue is whether or not they can keep it up until Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom can return.
Green is expected to come back sometime in the next week, which should alleviate pressure, but no timetable exists for Backstrom.
Washington travels to Tampa Bay tomorrow night for the second of three games in four days and Florida holds just a two-point lead over the Caps for the Southeast Division lead.
Now it’s on Ovechkin and Semin to carry the team until the injured can return or help can be found at the trading deadline.