WASHINGTON – Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau saw a troubling trend: His team took too many penalties, and didn’t play well when it was a man short.
Alex Ovechkin saw things another way: He thought the officials might have overlooked a call or two that could have gone against the Florida Panthers.
“Sometimes, the referees don’t see their penalties,” the reigning NHL MVP said. “They see more our penalties.”
Either way, the Panthers took advantage of their power-play opportunities Sunday, going 3-for-3 in the first period with goals by Stephen Weiss, Bryan McCabe and Jay Bouwmeester in a 6-2 victory over Ovechkin’s Capitals.
“We stunk,” Boudreau said. “We got beat to every loose puck. It seemed like they had the puck in the power play for the whole two minutes in our zone every time. I can’t sugarcoat it, and I can’t find excuses for it.”
The Panthers turned things around after a 7-2 loss in New Jersey on Saturday, even though they weren’t able to properly prepare. Their pre-game video session was cut short less than halfway through Sunday because their projector broke.
“We didn’t get to go over most of our stuff, including the power play,” Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. “Maybe it’s a good thing.”
Florida came in having scored on fewer than 15 per cent of its man-advantage chances, ranking 26th of 30 NHL teams.
“Maybe that’s the secret: We’ve got to forego the preparation,” DeBoer said. “It clicked tonight and hopefully we can continue that.”
Michael Frolik, Richard Zednik and Jassen Cullimore also scored for Florida, McCabe finished with three assists, and Weiss had two.
“It was such a boost to our confidence to just get our power play going. It’s been so long,” McCabe said. “We’ve been struggling immensely of late.”
The Capitals – coming off a rousing overtime victory Saturday at Eastern Conference-leading Boston – heard boos in their building and pulled starting goalie Jose Theodore after falling behind 4-1 in the opening period.
Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 46th goal with 22 seconds left, and Alexander Semin also had a goal for Washington.
“Lots of mistakes,” Ovechkin said.