Takeaways From The Capitals 4-3 Overtime Loss To The Florida Panthers

Photo: X/@FlaPanthers

The Washington Capitals concluded their five-game homestand on a decent note. The Caps earned seven out of 10 potential standings points and did a lot of things right during the home stretch. 

However, earning a point in their 4-3 overtime loss against the Florida Panthers does not take away the agony of Wednesday’s defeat. The Caps had leads of 1-0 and 3-2, but once again coughed them up once they gained them. Furthermore, the mistakes in the defensive zone ended up in the back of the Capitals’ net.

“We made some egregious mistakes with the puck [and] against a team like them you just can’t make… Especially against their best people who are all feeling it tonight and buzzing around. We just made some really, really mind-boggling plays with the puck, decisions with the puck, positional stuff for the second and third period,” Capitals head coach Spencer Carbery said after Wednesday’s loss. “We had a few looks but not near to our standard and what we’re capable of.”

Despite a strong finish in the third period, Panthers forward Sam Reinhart brought the curtain down 15 seconds into overtime giving the Panthers the extra point. 

RELATED: Capitals Fall To Panthers 4-3 In Overtime; Anthony Mantha Scores Twice, Connor McMichael Scores Third Goal Of The Season

Here is what stood out.

Third Line Supremacy

The Capitals third line composed of Connor McMichael, Aliaksei Protas and Anthony Mantha was flying all night long. 

“I think the biggest thing for us is we’re all on the same page. We’re all making the right reads we’re communicating out there,” McMichael said. “I think that just makes the game a lot easier. And I think obviously the other two guys had a great game as well.”

McMichael tallied his third goal of the season on a short-handed, odd-man rush. Protas did a great job of using his speed to separate himself from Aleksander Barkov, who was backchecking, and McMichael sprinted past Matthew Tkachuk and finished the play in dazzling fashion. 

The 22-year-old led the Caps with six shots on goal.

Protas especially was excellent. The towering 6-foot-6 winger had two assists on the night and was the main catalyst of the trio. He broke up plays on the PK and used his lengthy and powerful skating stride to create odd-man rushes.

“We just took care of our chances. It kind of came off the rush and everything we just took care of it,” Protas said. “Got a little lucky on the first one but took care of the next couple so just probably execution.”

Mantha was the player that was in the right place at the right time. Though he had some puck luck on the opening tally, Mantha put himself in prime scoring position on his second goal of the game.

McMichael fed a perfect saucer pass to a streaking Mantha and he went blocker side of the Panthers netminder. 

Unfortunately, he took a puck to his ear in the third period and went to the locker room for repairs. He did not return for the rest of the game. 

Alex Alexeyev Mistakes Lead To Goals

Alex Alexeyev had a very rough game. He was easily Washington’s worst player on the ice. The Russian defenseman was a minus-2 and was the one responsible for Barkov’s goal in the first period and then Evan Rodrigues’s tying strike in the third period.

The Caps were solid for the first half of the first period. They were executing on their breakouts and getting chances on Bobrovsky. But after the first TV timeout, things started to go sideways. On Barkov’s goal, Alexeyev chased down the puck in the far corner to retrieve it and make a play. 

Rather than rimming it hard around the boards or carrying it behind the net to find another option, Alexeyev sent a blind pass right to Reinhart and he centered it to Barkov. Though the first shot attempt was blocked, the two forwards ran the same play again and this time they converted. His reaction after the goal says it all.

Rodrigues’s goal was what was bad. Though it was a very impressive pass from the point, off the stick of Gustaf Forsling, Alexeyev did not make any sort of effort to tie up Rodrigues’s stick or box him out in front of the net. He was too soft and it led to an easy layup.

After that goal, Alexeyev did not touch the ice for the rest of the game. 

“It’s hockey, right like in sports like there’s going to be mistakes throughout the game and mismanaged pucks and all that sort of stuff. You just can’t make egregious mistakes,” Carbery said. “You just can’t lose the guy on the backside and give up a backdoor tap in and you can’t ice the puck when we’re already tired and there’s options.”

Odd-Man Rushes Created

Washington has not created a lot of odd-man rushes through the first 10 games of the season. However, Wednesday was much different. The Caps had two quick ones right out of the gate but did not capitalize. The first was with Alex Ovechkin and Dylan Strome, but they failed to get a shot on Bobrovsky. 

A minute later, the Caps executed a perfect breakout and it led to McMichael and Protas on a two-on-one back the other way. McMichael got a shot on Bobrovsky, but he stood tall. 

The last two goals the Caps scored were because of odd-man rushes and catching the Panthers on the long-change. 

Notable Numbers and Observations

  • Matthew Phillips’s time in D.C. might soon be coming to an end. Phillips had just 5:42 of ice time and had a bad turnover that led to a Florida breakaway. He has not been as effective as of late.
  • The Caps power play was 0-for-2.
  • Washington ended the game with 16 giveaways to Florida’s 10. 
  • Nick Jensen struggled after having a solid outing against Columbus. 
  • The top players for the Caps can’t seem to score. The top line of Alex Ovechkin, Dylan Strome and Tom Wilson had looks but couldn’t convert. Ovechkin at times is being a little too unselfish by passing the puck rather than using his incredible shot. 
  • The PK unit is now 13-for-13 in the last five games. 
  • None of the goals were on Darcy Kuemper. He was the reason why the Caps got to overtime. 
  • The Panthers had 15 shot blocks compared to Washington’s 13

The Capitals will travel to Newark for a front-end of a back-to-back against the New Jersey Devils. 

By Jacob Cheris

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
This entry was posted in News and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Takeaways From The Capitals 4-3 Overtime Loss To The Florida Panthers

  1. DC Scappeli says:

    It just figures that when Mantha has one of his more productive games, he he gets hurt. This start seems like it’s been snake bit or something, overturned goals, pucks hitting the pipes and crossbars, injuries to Dowd, Edmundson.

    But the positive thing is that it looked like that 3rd line had some chemistry. CM24 at his natural position, Mantha getting rewarded with two goals, Protas hustling and making that great pass to CM24….I’m not a fan of Mantha but I don’t wish him ill upon him, so hope he’s ok and has more confidence in his game more and more if there is indeed some chemistry with that 3rd line. Then the Caps can boost his trade value and maybe move him?

  2. Prevent Defense says:

    Yes, that one REALLY hurt. It’s definitely the Curse of Mike Gartner — Plaguing the Caps 30 years after idiot Abe traded him to the North Stars (GM Poile was bamboozled into this disaster)

    The Caps played their little hearts out and defeated the Swamp Cats 4-3 in regulation. But NO! — The *****d-up Bettman Offsides rule wipes out a MAGNIFICENT Caps goal that would have sealed the victory.

    Then Anthony Mantha plays his best game in five years — only to get beaned by the puck and carried off the ice.

    And Brilliant Whiz Kid Karbery benches red-hot goalie Sideburns for The Chosen One and his huge contract. Swiss Cheese Kuemper promptly lets in four soft goals. Chumper By The Dozen! Boo-birds win this round

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great write up! Maybe the Protas extra jump in his step comes from playing with speed at center. Mantha has not been putting up a ton of points, but he has been good with the puck all year. He makes good decisions and the team needs that. I was happy to see him get a couple goals. Phillips should take what he’s learned in Washington and work on it in Hershey. He looks like his confidence is low. It would be great to see LuJo for Alexyev for a few games.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, I think some time in Hershey would do Philips some good. Would be a great chance to see what we have in Ethan Frank as well.

  4. Prevent Defense says:

    OK Boo-birds!
    Several heavy-duty Ain’t-Getting-It-Done Caps, open for commentary
    45 Phillips – a complete bust
    35 Kuemper – blocking better goalies
    29 Lapierre – invisible every night
    Honorable mention: 27 Alexeyev

    We’ll end it there because the whole roster is suspect. But the above four are appalling – even to Mr. Caps Optimist

    • GR in 430 says:

      Phillips is a cheap FA, so can’t really be a bust. Instead he’s just a tweener — and A-N-HL player.. If he continues to be ineffective he gets waived, and if he gets through, helps Hershey. If not… not. There are several candidates in Hershey who can fill his spot easy enough.

      Kuemper isn’t their problem. He’s not the greatest goalie, but he’s good enough, if the guys in front of him stop allowing point-blank shots.

      Lapierre may turn out to be a bust, but he’s still young and inexperienced enough that it’s too early to give up on him.

      Alexeyev has no excuses. He has size and talent, but is wildly inconsistent. Yeah the one goal can be chalked up to being on his off side, trying to make a backhand pass up the boards. But he should know better than to try that. And somebody should have been screaming at him to rim the damned puck. If they were and he ignored them, even worse on him. The Rodriguez goal was inexcusable, but pretty typical for the Caps’ D this year. Sandin in particular has the same inability to tie up anybody in front. Edmundson is supposed to fix the passivity problem in front of the net… but we’ll see.

      • Anonymous says:

        It’s generally agreed that Lapierre needs one more year in Hershey. He’s just not ready yet. If he’s not ready to make the jump next year, then we can start entertaining the B-word.

      • Prevent Defense says:

        Spot-on analysis GR!
        Thus we have the 2023-24 Infuriating Capitals

  5. Anonymous says:

    Mantha be careful not to fly to close to the sun! Those wings were only made of wax!!!

    Ear-ily like the shot Carlson took to the ear.

    Mantha is really a Charlie Brown….the moment something good happens, it snatched away. Go count your money and rest up Mantha.

    Even though I’m anon, most of you likely recognize my posts by my unique online mannerisms.

    Due to Mantha’s injury and actually stepping up the last two games I will not bash or pick on Mantha until the new year or at least one month after Mantha has returned from injury.

    Looking forward to seeing NAK back in a Caps Jersey where he belongs

  6. Anonymous says:

    The system forcing the d to chase forwards all over the zone rather than hang out in front of the goal contributes to these plays. Also if you are going to play 2 rookies on D they should be paired with vets and not together.

Leave a Reply