Three years ago today, the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers met for the second time of the 2014-15 season. Washington took the first meeting at Verizon Center back on Saturday, October 18 by a 2-1 final in a shootout. The Capitals were making their lone visit to BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. In this piece, NoVa Caps’ Harrison Brown takes a look back at the second meeting between the Capitals and Panthers in 2014-15, a game that went to an NHL record 20-round shootout.
The Capitals had a slow start to the season, going 10-10-4 in their first 24 games but came into this contest getting points in five straight. The team just came off on the heels of a 4-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which featured a Nicklas Backstrom hat trick.
The Panthers came in with a 12-8-8 record through their first 26 games, which was relatively good for a team that won the draft lottery the previous season. The Panthers were inconsistent in the season so far, usually winning one or two games and then following up with a loss or two to show for it.
Derek McKenzie scored his 3rd goal of the season just 9:36 in to take the 1-0 lead for the Panthers. Scottie Upshall had the lone assist on the goal.
Troy Brouwer tied it up for Washington tucked in his own rebound past Panthers’ goaltender Roberto Luongo for his ninth of the year. The Capitals tied the game up on the power play.
The game stats were nearly even going into the shootout. The Panthers led 29-24 in shots and had a 50-48 hit advantage. The Capitals did a good job at puck management, only giving away the puck four times. Both teams only had two power plays but Washington took advantage of one of their opportunities, unlike Florida.
Alex Ovechkin was a force in the game with an assist, six shots on goal and seven hits. Tom Wilson led the team with eight hits. Brooks Orpik had eight hits, two blocked shots, and only one giveaway in 23:30 worth of ice time. He also had two penalty minutes up on the board.
Besides tallying for the only goal on his lone shot on goal, MacKenzie had a strong game with five hits and an 80% faceoff win percentage in only 12:24 worth of ice time. 2014 first overall pick Aaron Ekblad also had a solid performance for the Panthers with seven hits and two blocked shots. The Panthers had 15 blocked shots, with captain Willie Mitchell leading the team with nearly half of those (seven).
The third period was scoreless and overtime wasn’t enough to solve who would win. The game went into a shootout, where there was no scoring in the first three rounds.
Alex Ovechkin gave the Capitals one goal away from a win, squeaking one five-hole past Panthers’ goaltender Roberto Luongo but Panthers’ forward Jussi Jokinen tied it up at the bottom of the fourth round with an old-fashioned Peter Forsberg move to send the game to a fifth round of the shootout.
There wasn’t another goal until the seventh round, where Brooks Laich put the Capitals ahead once again and pushed them close to a victory by backhanding a shot five-hole past Luongo but Panthers’ center Dave Bolland had other plans. He sent this shootout into the 8th round with a wrist shot, which went five-hole on Holtby.
In the 10th round, winger Joel Ward struck for the Capitals, wristing it to the bottom right corner. But once again Derek MacKenzie would save the Panthers’ from defeat with a top-shelf shot that beat Capitals’ goaltender Braden Holtby.
John Carlson scored for the Capitals in the next round, ripping one north of Luongo’s right shoulder to the top corner. Sean Bergenheim beat Holtby, scoring five-hole on a backhand shot.
There would be no more scoring for five more rounds. Matt Niskanen hit the crossbar with a wrist shot in the 16th round but the hockey gods favored Luongo and the Panthers. Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was foiled by Holtby with a left pad save.
In the next round Brooks Orpik deked Luongo and laid him down for a wide-open net but defenseman Dylan Olsen beat Holtby south of his blocker with a wrist shot to send it to an 18th round.
In the top of the 19th round, Karl Alzner drove a shot between the dots but Luongo flashed it aside with his blocker. Braden Holtby denied captain Willie Mitchell on a backhand right in front of him.
The Capitals and Panthers were each forced to start from the top of their lineup, so Nicklas Backstrom got another shot for the Capitals. Luongo closed the five-hole on Backstrom to take the pressure off of himself. Jokinen was stopped by Holtby with a left-pad save.
Alex Ovechkin shot next for the Capitals in the 20th round of the shootout. He deked his way to the net and tried to go top shelf but Luongo stoned him with a glove save right near the right post.
Center Nick Bjugstad ended the game holding the puck, deking, and waiting out Braden Holtby to go top cheese. Florida would outscore Washington 6-5 in the shootout, which lasted about 18 minutes.
The previous longest shootout was 15 rounds, a Rangers victory over the Capitals on November 26, 2005.
By Harrison Brown