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5 Takeaways: Panthers Get Another Point in OT Loss to Capitals

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

11/7/19 Post Game Interviews

11/7/19 Post Game Interviews

Interviews with Head Coach Joel Quenneville and forwards Aleksander Barkov and Brett Connolly.

  • 01:25 •

SUNRISE, Fla. - What happens when two of the top-5 offenses in the NHL meet?

Well, we just found out.

In a wild back-and-forth game full of scoring opportunities at both ends of the ice, the Florida Panthers came up just short in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals at BB&T Center.

Still, despite the loss, the Panthers (7-3-5) have picked up points in 11 of their last 12 games.

"It would've been nice to shut the door on a really, really good team in this league," Panthers winger Brett Connolly said. "They're arguably playing the best out of any team in this league. We got up and we were playing really good, but you've got to clamp down and keep forechecking and keep playing at them or they'll make you pay.

"We got a point. We'd obviously love to have two… If we're playing our best, we can play against any team. We've just got to keep getting better every day, and then we'll take it from there. Overall, it's been 15 games now. I think at the start the season, we'd take this record. I think guys have a lot to be proud of for the first 15 games. We've all worked extremely hard."

John Carlson opened the scoring tonight when he re-directed a shot past Sergei Bobrovsky to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead 25 seconds into the game. But not long after that, Frank Vatrano answered for the Panthers, slipping a shot through Braden Holtby to tie the game 1-1 at 1:55.

At 14:26, Connolly scored to extend Florida's lead to 2-1 heading into the first intermission.

"We had a real good start to the game," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said of the first period in which Florida held a 13-5 advantage in scoring opportunities. "We did some good things."

Lighting the lamp in his third straight game, Aleksander Barkov put the Panthers up 3-1 a mere 27 seconds into the second period. That advantage quickly evaporated, however, as Alexander Ovechkin scored at 6:13 on the power play and at 12:14 at even strength to make it a 3-3 game.

But with 1:01 remining in the second, Evgenii Dadonov's power-play goal put Florida up 4-3.

Less than a minute into the third period, Tom Wilson chipped a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov over Bobrovsky's shoulder to make it a 4-4 game and eventually force overtime. Then, 17 seconds into the extra frame, Wilson scored once again to send the Capitals to a 5-4 win.

"We're disappointed," Barkov said. "We felt like we could've won this game. A couple mistakes, a couple lucky bounces for them and they won the game. They're a good team. You've got to respect that. We have a back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday. We just need to get ready for that."

Here are five takeaways from Thursday's overtime loss in Sunrise…

1. FRANK WITH THE FINISH

Vatrano can really fly when there's open ice ahead of him.

Taking advantage of a defender losing his footing and falling to the ice, Vatrano scooped up a loose puck just below Washington's blue line and booked it toward the net. With no one but the goaltender to beat, he slipped a shot past Holtby to tie the game 1-1 at 1:55 of the first period.

Video: WSH@FLA: Vatrano takes advantage of misstep, scores

On the heels of a career-best 24-goal campaign in 2018-19, Vatrano has now potted four goals this season, with all of them coming over his last nine games. In addition to his work on offense, the versatile 25-year-old winger has also recorded 13 hits, 13 blocked shots and six takeaways.

2. BRETT'S BIG GOAL

Connolly has a lot of fond memories of his time in Washington, including a Stanley Cup win in 2018. But in his first game against his old team, he was making his presence felt as a Panther.

Using all of his 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame to out-muscle Capitals defenseman Dimitri Orlov near the top of Washington's crease, Connolly managed to create just enough space to tip a booming slap shot from Anton Stralman past Holtby to put Florida on top 2-1 at 14:26 of the first period.

Video: WSH@FLA: Connolly gains position, pots redirection

"It was nice, but it would have been nice to win," Connolly said of his goal. "Obviously it's always nice to score goals… I was just trying to help my team win tonight. I was fortunate to get one."

Off to a hot start after joining the Panthers on a four-year contract this summer, Connolly has now lit the lamp in each of the last two games. In 15 games this season, the 27-year-old winger has already notched 11 points (six goals, five assists), which places him fourth in team-scoring.

"It's a tough one to lose," he said. "We had it for most of the night. To hear more from Connolly, check out this week's episode of Territory Talk.

3. THE FLOODGATES

Just as we all expected, the goals are starting to come for Barkov.

After Jonathan Huberdeau forced a turnover in the offensive zone, Dadonov jumped right on the loose puck and sent a pass to Barkov, who fired a one-timer from just outside the left circle that flew straight past Holtby to extend Florida's lead to 3-1 just 27 seconds into the second period.

Piling up the assists to start the season, Barkov now has goals in each of his last three games.

Video: WSH@FLA: Barkov capitalizes on turnover early in 2nd

"Of course I'm trying to shoot more, but I can still shoot a lot more," Barkov said. "I need to find ways to shoot and make myself as a threat, too. We know Huby's scoring, Daddy's scoring, and we need me to be a threat, too. I need to shoot a lot of pucks and be a guy that can score."

Tied with Huberdeau for the team-scoring lead with 19 points, Barkov also leads the team with 16 assists. Producing at a torrid pace in recent weeks, the 24-year-old center has notched three goals and 13 assists in his last 10 games, including six multi-point performances in that span.

"It's nice to see him shoot," Quenneville said. "He's a great player."

4. DADONOV ON DUTY

After setting up Barkov's goal, Dadonov didn't have to wait long before cashing in himself.

Sent to the power play with time winding down in the middle frame, Huberdeau threaded the needle with a pin-point pass from behind the net to Dadonov, who blasted home a one-timer from just outside the blue paint to put Florida ahead 4-3 with 1:01 left in the second period.

Video: WSH@FLA: Huberdeau connects with Dadonov for PPG

Finding his way onto the scoresheet in nine of 15 games to start the season, Dadonov always seems to find a way to chip in on offense, either on the power play or at even strength. As it stands now, he currently ranks second on the Panthers in goals (7) and third in points (13).

Over his last six games, Dadonov has tallied three goals and three assists.

5. TONINATO'S DEBUT

Dominic Toninato didn't look out of place in his first game with the Panthers.

Recalled from the AHL on Wednesday to fill in for injured center Noel Acciari, the 25-year-old had two shots on goal - including a pair of very good looks - over 11:12 of ice time against the Capitals tonight. Additionally, he also shined in the faceoff circle, winning six of his seven draws.

"He did a good job," Quenneville said. "It's not an easy job. You've got a lot of big shifts against top guys. I thought that line continues to do the right things. I think they end up in the offensive zone a lot and have some good energy shifts as well. We used him in different situations on the defensive side of things, and I thought he did really good."

Acquired in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche in June, Toninato competed in 12 games and recorded six points with Florida's AHL affiliate, the Springfield Thunderbirds, prior to his call-up.

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