Cats Assure Winning Record Despite 2-1 Shootout Loss
In a game filled with pucks off the post, big hits into the boards, and giant glove saves, the Panthers fall to the Washington Capitals for the first time this season in a shootout thriller.
Jamie McLennan got his eighth start in goal for the Cats, turning away 47 shots while Caps goalie Brent Johnson turned away 48 shots to set a new franchise record for combined shots in a game with 97. One of McLennan's many saves was on Matt Pettinger's penalty shot in the first period.
Gary Roberts scored the lone goal for Florida when Joe Nieuwendyk took control of the puck off a pass from Mike Van Ryn in the neutral zone, drew the goalie out, went behind the net and fed Roberts on top of the crease. For Roberts, it was his 14th of the season and Nieuwendyk's and Van Ryn's 29th assist of the year.
Alex Ovechkin tied the score later on in the period with a breakaway on McLennan that he was able to beat him on the high glove side.
From there on, the game turned into a battle of spectacular plays on both sides. Scoring opportunities were abound for the Panthers who played with reckless abandonment to try and earn the season sweep of the Capitals, but Washington was able to hold off the Panther attack.
In a fast-paced overtime, McLennan showed the almost 18,000 fans at the BankAtlantic Center that he was up to the challenge. He was able to make heart-stopping save after another to put the Cats into a shootout, McLennan's first.
After saves on the first shooters, Danius Zubrus of Washington got the first goal as the second shooter. Olli Jokinen then stepped up as usual as the last shooter to send the shootout into sudden death. Pettinger got his revenge though on McLennan, scoring the next Caps goal that turned into the game winner when Jozef Stumpel's shot went off the post.
The Panthers season comes to a close on Tuesday when they face off against division rival Atlanta. The Panthers encourage all fans to come to the last game and enjoy Fan Appreciation Night.