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42 posts from November 2013

November 02, 2013

CAPS AGAIN: Panthers Can't Solve Caps in Washington, Lose 3-2 in Shootout

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Kevin Dineen benched his highest-paid forward Saturday night in trying to light a spark under his struggling team.

Dineen got the effort he was looking for, he just didn't get the extra point in the standings.

Washington went 3-for-3 in the shootout to pull out a 3-2 win over the Panthers, the Capitals' eighth straight win over their former Southeast Division rival.

It was a much different scene than Friday's listless home loss to St. Louis in which Dineen seemed about done with his current group of players.

"It was such a different game with the tone, the compete level,'' said Dineen, who sat winger Kris Versteeg for the first time in his NHL career.

Florida trailed for much of the game, yet tied the score at 2 when former Caps winger Tomas Fleischmann fired an off-lined shot that squeeked past Michal Neuvirth with 2:38 left.

The Panthers got a single point in the standings for the third time in the past five games. Florida has now gone without a win in its past five games.

"We have to keep playing this way and the wins will start coming,'' Fleischmann said. "We took a step forward. We played a full 60 minutes, played well. We'll get two points next game.''

Washington, which is now 18-4-1 against the Panthers since the start of 2009-10 season, took a 1-0 lead when Nicklas Backstrom slid into the slot and fired a shot past goalie Scott Clemmensen with 3:19 left in the opening period.

Florida ended up outplaying the Capitals for much of the period, yet Washington found a way to score on one of its rare chances to lead at the first break.

"I thought we played great especially in this building under the circumstances,'' said Clemmensen, who stopped 21 shots in his first start of the season. "I personally felt a little rusty, but they played great in front of me and that allowed me to get into it.''

The Panthers tied the score 8:20 into the second when Scottie Upshall picked off a puck at center ice and deftly landed a pass on the tape of Jesse Winchester's stick. Winchester made a nice move and dove to beat Michal Neuvirth.

The Caps, however, would broke the tie just 36 seconds later and lead 2-1 going into the third.

Florida scored on its final power play opportunity of the night with Fleischmann breaking the Panthers' 0-for-5 run during the game. The Panthers' penalty kill had to be good as Fleischmann took a holding call in overtime.

The Caps went 3-for-3 in the shootout with the Panthers getting just one from Aleksander Barkov as they are now 1-3 in shootouts this season.


November 01, 2013

PANTHERS GOT THE BLUES: St. Louis Rolls Florida for Second Time in a Month, This Time 4-0

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

Kevin Dineen's frustration is obvious and it's understandable.

On Friday night, the Panthers closed their season-long six-game homestand with a deflating 4-0 loss to the Blues at BB&T Center, a lackluster performance in which Florida's coach called out 16 of his 19 players who hit the ice.

Hey, things could have been worse. The Panthers lost 7-0 in St. Louis on Oct. 5. The Panthers have been shutout in three of their first 13 games this season.

"We probably had three competitive guys,'' Dineen said, mentioning Shawn Matthias, Jesse Winchester and Mike Weaver. "That's not enough to drag the whole group along.

"If we can't get everyone to compete harder than we did [Friday], we'll just stumble along and get our wins here and there. .-.-. They have to understand they're playing in the best league in the world. It's an absolute privilege to play in this league. There is no entitlement.''

Florida won one of its six home games on the two-week road reprieve and gained just four of the available 12 points. The Panthers have lost four straight since beating Minnesota in a shootout way back on Oct. 19.

Dineen said the Panthers were looking at different ways to improve and the team could make a roster move or two in the coming days. When the team got off to a rough start in 2011, GM Dale Tallon made a big splash by trading David Booth to Vancouver.

"It's frustrating,'' Matthias said. "We were playing with them then took our foot off the gas. We probably panicked a bit. We have to keep our composure. Things aren't always going to go your way but you can't fall apart.''

Things won't get easier either as the Panthers visit a personal house of horror in Washington D.C. on Saturday night. The Panthers will play the Capitals after a late-night flight into northern Virginia and an early-morning busride to their hotel near the White House.

The Capitals, who beat the host Flyers 7-0 on Friday as the Panthers were getting bombarded by the Blues, have won seven straight home games against the Panthers and could have Alex Ovechkin back for Saturday's game.

"You have to know what's coming ahead,'' defenseman Brian Campbell said. "There are no easy games for us, no matter who it is.''

As was the case in St. Louis, things fell apart for the Panthers in the second period.

Despite a well-played first period in which the Panthers tested goalie Brian Elliott -- the third straight backup Florida has faced -- the Blues led 1-0 after Derek Roy scored when his shot hit the post and bounced off Jacob Markstrom with 4:19 left.

The Blues jumped Markstrom in the second, scoring three times within a span of 5:21 to make it 4-0.

Chris Stewart, whose brother Anthony was a first-round pick of the Panthers back in 2003, started it with Anthony Pietrangelo and Alex Steen getting in on the action as well.

St. Louis' domination of the Panthers this season was absolutely complete. Not only was Florida outscored 11-0 in the lopsided losses, but the Panthers were outscored 7-0 in the second period alone.

"When things come at you in waves you can call a timeout, do a lot of little things,'' Dineen said. "But that's like putting a patch on the big rip in the raft. We need to understand when they push, we have to push back. This is a physical sport. If you're not up to it, it's a hard game to play.''


Goalie Tim Thomas (lower body) didn't practice for the second straight day and won't be with the team for Saturday's game in Washington.

Scott Clemmensen is expected to get his first start of the season.

-- The Panthers' scoring woes have made opposing coaches look smart in saving their starting goalies for following games at Tampa Bay.

The three backups who have faced the Panthers in the past week have surrendered a grand total of four goals; Tampa Bay's Anders Lindback gave up three of them last Sunday.

-- Scottie Upshall was scratched for the third time since Oct. 15 as he was one of Florida's healthy scratches. Upshall was joined by Krys Barch, who has missed the past six games, and Ryan Whitney -- who hasn't played since Oct. 10.

All three could be back in the lineup Saturday.



When, Where: 7 p.m.; Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

TV/Radio: FSNF; WSBR-740

The series: Washington leads 55-44-9

Scouting report: The Panthers haven't fared well in Washington lately, especially coming in the second night of a back-to-back set. Last year, the Caps won both games in the district by a combined 12-1. Florida hasn't won in Washington since Dec. 9, 2010 -- a span of seven straight losses. In Florida's past six losses in D.C., the Panthers have been outscored 26-5.