The Capitals’ games in South Florida always tend to be a little unpredictable. Maybe it’s the abundance of sunshine and 80-degree temperatures in February that makes for strange hockey, but for one reason or another, the matchups between the Caps and Panthers here tend to be wacky.
There were awkward bounces, a brief tussle between Alex Ovechkin and Kris Versteeg, caroms off the partitions, tips, and more deflections than seemed possible.
“Every win’s important, and to stay with it for 60 minutes is something we talk about all the time,” Coach Adam Oates said. “And we saw it was going to be one of those kind of nights where goals were going in and just to stay with the program and fight through the mistakes, and they did it.”
Two Panthers goals – the first by Tomas Fleischmann and the fifth by Drew Shore – went off Washington defenseman John Erskine or his stick. Florida’s third goal came on a deflection by Jonathan Huberdeau, who was the second Panther to change the direction of Erik Gudbranson’s shot on its way to the net.
It wasn’t an easy night to be goaltenders Braden Holtby or Scott Clemmensen.
“It was really tough to swallow some of those goals against, just tough,” Eric Fehr said. “It’s tough ice and tough bounces. I feel for Holtsy in net; there’s not much you can do on a lot of those plays. It’s great for us to pick him up and get a win for him.”
>> Jason Chimera played a season-low 5:43 Tuesday night after starting the contest on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro. The veteran winger was on the ice for each of the Panthers’ first three goals against – by Fleischmann, Shawn Matthias and Huberdeau – two as a member of the top unit and the third after being demoted to the fourth line.