Panthers rebound to drub Capitals

WASHINGTON (Ticker) — The Florida Panthers easily shook off
their worst defensive performance of the season.

Stephen Weiss and defensemen Bryan McCabe and Jay Bouwmeester
netted power-play goals in the first period as the Panthers
routed the Washington Capitals, 6-2, Sunday.

Florida rebounded from its worst defensive effort of the season
– a 7-2 loss at New Jersey on Saturday – to improve to 2-2-0 on
its five-game road trip.

“It was a lot better defensive effort and we got rewarded at the
other end for it,” Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said.

Florida (32-23-8) climbed back into a tie with the New York
Rangers (32-24-8) for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with
72 points – three clear of a playoff spot.

“It’s a huge two points for us at the point we’re at in the
season, and especially after what happened last night,” Weiss
said. “To get this win is a big boost for us.”

After facing a 46-shot barrage in New Jersey, Florida netminder
Craig Anderson enjoyed a much easier time Sunday, stopping 32
shots. He also was staked to a 4-1 lead after the first period.

“We stunk,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I’m not sure
how I even characterize it, but we got beat to every loose puck.

“(It) seemed like they had the puck on 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. We weren’t very good.”

Washington’s Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 46th goal
of the season, but it came with only 22 seconds remaining in the

With the Capitals trailing by five goals, Ovechkin showed no
emotion, avoiding his usual goal celebration.

During his weekly “Coaches Corner” segment on “Hockey Night in
Canada” outspoken commentator Don Cherry criticized Ovechkin on
Saturday for his exuberant celebrations.

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However, Ovechkin and the Capitals had little to celebrate

They may have suffered a letdown after Saturday’s emotional 4-3
overtime win in Boston pulled the Capitals within eight points
of the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins.

“Just (a lack of) discipline, I think,” Ovechkin said. “We
talked about this the last couple of weeks. We can’t play PK
all the time, all game if we want to win the game.”

Washington’s Alexander Semin opened the scoring with a
power-play goal 86 seconds into the contest.

However, the Panthers cashed in on all three of their
first-period power plays in a 10 1/2-minute span to take

Florida entered Sunday’s game just 26th on the power play,
converting at only a 14.8 percent clip.

“You’ve (media) got to keep writing about how bad the power play
is,” DeBoer said. “Guys read it and respond. We didn’t change

“In fact, our video broke in pregame meetings so we didn’t even
get to the power play. Maybe that’s the secret – we’ve got to
forgo the preparation. It clicked tonight and hopefully we can
continue that.”

Richard Zednik scored with 3:44 remaining in the fist to
complete Florida’s four-goal outburst.

“We showed a lot of character because we’ve given up early goals
in the last three or four games, and we very easily could have
said, ‘Oh, here we go again, it’s not our night,'” McCabe said.
“But we buckled down and really took it to them after that.”

Washington goaltender Jose Theodore was pulled after allowing
four goals on 17 shots in the opening period.

“I pulled him out to protect him,” Boudreau said.