Washington has earned points in each of the past nine games, but after allowing three power play goals to a Florida Panthers team with aleague-worst success rate with a man-advantage and squandering an opportunity to perhaps leave Sunrise with two points, the Capitals weren't in the mood to look on the bright side.
"They were outworking us in the beginning and we can't let that happen," Marcus Johansson said. "We've got to work harder, I think that's the main thing. We've got ourselves to blame here and it's not good at all."
From bad and often untimely penalties to an inability to create much of anything on six power play opportunities, (more on that tomorrow morning) this was a game that gave the Capitals plenty of chances to seize control they just couldn't cash in. Ultimately the player whom Coach Bruce Boudreau credited with helping Washington preserve a point at BankAtlantic Center was goaltender Michal Neuvirth.
In his first start since Dec. 23, Neuvirth stopped 37 of 41 shots, an effort that included 18 saves in the first period to prevent the Panthers from adding to a quick two-goal lead.
"He was really good," Boudreau said. "If it wasn't for him the first period would have been 5-0. He stole a point for us."
Johansson, the other rookie with a standout performance against the Panthers, agreed: "He did a great job. He was really good. He kept us in the game in the first period and later on too. He was just very good tonight."
Johansson recorded the first two-goal game of his NHL career against the Panthers, with the first tally coming on a nice give-and-go with Brooks Laich. An outlet pass by Karl Alzner was tipped by recalled veteran forward Brian Willsie, sparking a 2-on-1 for Johansson and Laich. The rookie center said he simply took as hard of a shot as he could as quickly as he could in an attempt to get the puck between Tomas Vokoun's pads. It worked.
"The second one, it was a good job by [Matt Hendricks] to get the puck to the net and I just got a little stick on it and it went in," Johansson said. "[The puck] fell down right in front of [Vokoun] and I tried to get a stick on it and it found a way in."
-- Alex Ovechkin isn't scoring many goals this season, but the cross-ice pass he sent through plenty of traffic to find Mike Knuble for a goal in the second period was as good of a set-up as any player could ask for.
-- Washington's matchup Wednesday against the Lightning in Tampa Bay would have been big regardless of the outcome against the Panthers, but with the two teams entering the contest at the St. Pete Times Forum tied with 55 points and jockeying for top billing in the Southeast Division, expect an intense showdown.