Alex Ovechkin took his first shot 61 seconds into Friday’s game against the Panthers. He wouldn’t shoot again until 9:24 in the third period. In spite of neutralizing the league’s top goal scorer, the Panthers played the Washington Capitals to a 2-2 tie on John Vanbiesbrouck bobblehead night at BB&T Center. Outshooting the Capitals 41-25 wasn’t enough for the Panthers to avoid what turned out to be an epic shootout. Coming off a four-goal performance earlier this week at Tampa, Ovechkin also missed his chance in the shootout. A Jason Chimera miss on his team’s 10th shot left an opening for Tomas Kopecky to score on rookie Philipp Grubauer and get the Panthers a point. The Panthers’ five previous shooters all could have won it as Scott Clemmensen turned away six consecutive shots. The shootout was tied for the second-longest in Panthers’ history. “Once you get past the fourth shooter, the shootout is simplified at that point,” Clemmensen said. “It’s a gimmicky thing I think, but I’m such a hypocrite because I’m sitting at home and I love watching it and I think the fans love watching it, too.” The Penguins on Nov. 20 were the only other team before Friday to hold Ovechkin to as few as two shots. “We talked about us,” Panthers’ coach Peter Horachek said. “We have to handle our situation, how we want to play, play team defense against him. If you noticed I didn’t play one line against him all night long. There were multiple pairs of D. We have to be very aware of where he is on the ice. We know they like to flip the pucks out and let him get in foot races. He’s dangerous one-on-one and he’s dangerous when the puck is on his stick. We tried to limit those opportunities as a team…We know he can turn a game around real fast.” Regular goalie Tim Thomas was scratched Friday. He had started 14 of the team’s last 15 games but departed Thursday’s practice early. Thomas, who is one game shy of 400 for his career, also had won each of his last three starts with a 1.62 goals against average. Friday’s fill-in, Clemmensen did an admirable job, stopping 23 of 25 shoot in addition to a stalwart effort in the shootout. Entering the night, Clemmensen and Jacob Markstrom were a combined 1-7-4 with a 3.69 GAA compared to Thomas’ 9-10-1 mark and 2.75 GAA. The Panthers’ lone win without Thomas in goal came in the Oct. 11 home opener, when Markstrom stopped 36 of 39 Penguins’ shots in a 6-3 victory. Clemmensen and the Panthers were stellar for all but a fraction of the second period. Erik Gudbranson delivered a right shoulder to Eric Fehr’s sternum in front of the benches at 16:16. Troy Brouwer pursed and engaged Gudbranson in a brief skirmish. “There was no elbow,” Horachek said. “His elbows were to his side. It was directly his shoulder that hit [Fehr] in the chest first and the follow through might hit him on the chin as it’s going through, but it’s straight on. It wasn’t a blindside hit and he didn’t leave his feet. The referee says it was direct contact to the head.” The resulting penalties on Gudbranson and Brouwer produced two minutes of 4-on-4 hockey during which Nicklas Backstrom tied the game at one. Eighty-four seconds later, Aleksander Barkov answered. He picked up the puck on the right boards, skated in between the circles and beat Grubauer on his team’s 29th shot of the game and 15th of the period.
Panthers shut down Ovechkin, top Capitals in shootout
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Dec 14