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Caps Fall to 0-2 in Tourney with Loss to Panthers

Caps get on board first, but drop second game in as many nights, falling 5-2 to Florida

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / Monumental Sports Network

Two games into the 2016 Florida rookie tournament, the Capitals are still seeking their first win. The Caps jumped out to an early lead over the Florida Panthers in Sunday's middle match of the 2016 tourney, but that advantage lasted less than half a minute and Washington ended up on the short end of a 5-2 decision with the host Florida Panthers.

"I think it was a little more smooth out there and we didn't scramble," says Caps defenseman Tyler Lewington, who is serving as captain of the Washington squad at the tournament. "I think [Saturday's loss to the Lightning] was just the guys' first competitive game of the summer, so it helped get the nerves out of the way."

Two games into the 2016 Florida rookie tournament, the Capitals are still seeking their first win. The Caps jumped out to an early lead over the Florida Panthers in Sunday's middle match of the 2016 tourney, but that advantage lasted less than half a minute and Washington ended up on the short end of a 5-2 decision with the host Florida Panthers.

"I think it was a little more smooth out there and we didn't scramble," says Caps defenseman Tyler Lewington, who is serving as captain of the Washington squad at the tournament. "I think [Saturday's loss to the Lightning] was just the guys' first competitive game of the summer, so it helped get the nerves out of the way."

After conducting a practice on Monday, the Caps will conclude the tournament on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators, who are also seeking their first win of the tournament. Both the Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning are 2-0 to this point in the tournament, so their head-to-head match on Tuesday will determine the champion of the tourney. 

Washington jumped out to a 1-0 lead at 3:49 of the first frame in Sunday's game against the Cats. Travis Boyd scored with help from John Parker on a play that started with a quick defensive zone exit thanks to the defensive duo of Connor Hobbs and Jonas Siegenthaler. 

But just 24 seconds later, Boyd's former Golden Gopher teammate Kyle Rau evened the game for the Panthers, beating Washington netminder Vitek Vanecek. Vanecek made the initial stop, but was unable to freeze it before Rau jimmied it through the goaltender's legs. 

Denis Malgin put Florida on top by a 2-1 count at 11:58. Caps defenseman Tyler Lewington pinched along the left wing wall in the attack zone, but was unable to keep the puck in the zone, giving Malgin enough room to exit the zone with possession and space. Malgin's shot from the right circle beat Vanecek and gave Florida the lead.

Washington pulled even at 6:49 of the second period, doing so with its second shorthanded goal in as many games. Caps winger Beck Malenstyn carried into the Florida zone and put a shot toward the net from a severe angle. The puck trickled into the slot where Zach Sanford collected and buried it, roofing a backhander behind Florida netminder Colin Stevens.

Late in the second period, Washington's Jakub Vrana and Florida's Jayce Hawryluk engaged in a brief fight. Hawryluk seemed to be favoring his hand after the scrap, and he was not seen on the ice for the remainder of the evening. 

Siegenthaler also sat out the final period after blocking a shot in the middle frame. 

Florida went ahead to stay early in the third. With Lewington off for a roughing minor incurred at the 20-minute mark of the second period, Malgin scored on the power play, threading a shot through Vanecek's five-hole at the 32-second mark of the third period.

Just over six minutes later, Malgin completed a hat trick with his fifth goal of the tourney, a deflection of a Spencer Abraham shot from the right point that gave Florida its first two-goal cushion of the night at 4-2.

Washington had its only two power plays of the game in the third but was unable to close the gap with either of those opportunities. Juho Lammikko removed any lingering drama from the contest when he scored an empty-net goal with 54.5 seconds remaining in the game.

"I thought we did a much better job of managing the puck in [offensive] zone play," says Caps coach Troy Mann. "We talked a lot about how [Saturday] was one and done and just throwing pucks to areas, and then [the Lightning] was going back the other way. I thought tonight we had much better zone time and consequently we were able to create a number of Grade A [scoring chances]. 

"I thought in the first period we had a number of great looks, and if it wasn't for Stevens it probably would have been a different first period for us." 

And perhaps, a different game as well.

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