Capital 6, Panthers 5 (OT)

Florida Panthers waste lead, lose in OT to Capitals


The Panthers lost their composure and fell to the Capitals in overtime after holding a two-goal lead with just over five minutes to play.

As bad as the Panthers felt after getting skunked by the Capitals on Saturday night, Tuesday definitely felt worse.

The good news was the Panthers picked up a point in the standings.

One never would have known that afterward by looking at Dale Tallon’s angry face or the long blank stares from Peter Mueller and Dmitry Kulikov as they sat fully dressed in their locker stalls moments after Washington’s Troy Brouwer scored early in overtime to give the Capitals a 6-5 victory.

Florida held a two-goal lead with just over five minutes left in regulation before giving it away. Scott Clemmensen — who filled in for starter Jose Theodore — gave up six goals on 29 shots.

“I think our composure is something we need to continue to work on,’’ coach Kevin Dineen said. “Feeling the pressure, we didn’t respond well to it. Obviously you survive those sometimes. This is a tough loss.’’

The Capitals have beaten the Panthers in consecutive games (winning 5-0 in Washington) and six of the past eight. In Washington’s five-game winning streak against the Panthers, Florida has been outscored 21-8.

Florida grabbed just one of the available four points in the Washington home-and-home series — as the Capitals took all four.

Tuesday felt like it would be different. The Panthers fell behind 1-0 but never trailed again until Bouwer beat Clemmensen early in the extra frame.

Florida led 5-3 before Eric Fehr scored with 5:07 left; then it was Alex Ovechkin’s turn as his goal tied the score with 2:49 remaining.

Florida’s ’Kid Line’ of rookies Jonathan Huberdeau, Drew Shore and 24-year-old Peter Mueller looked strong throughout the game as Huberdeau had a career-best two goals (both with help from Mueller) in the second period.

Shore’s first NHL marker — coming in the third period of Game 10 — would have been the game-winner had Ovechkin not tied things up four seconds into Huberdeau’s slashing penalty late in the third.

The Panthers fell behind early Monday as Washington — now with one win outside the District — took the initial lead 4:26 in when Mike Ribeiro zipped a shot past Clemmensen.

The Panthers bounced back in the first as they finally solved Capitals goalie Braden Holtby (five goals off 32 shots).

Down 1-0, Florida rattled off the next 11 shots and picked up two goals and the lead in the process.

Florida tied it when former Capitals forward Tomas Fleischmann fired a shot toward the net area after Filip Kuba stole the puck from Ovechkin. Fleischmann’s shot hit John Erskine’s skate and made a beeline for the net.

Moments later, Shawn Matthias got his second of the year by teeing off on a nice Marcel Goc feed just out of the slot.

Washington tied it early in the second only to have Huberdeau break it.

Defenseman Erik Gudbranson fired a shot from deep with the puck clipping the stick of Mueller and somehow finding Huberdeau as he moved in on Holtby.

Huberdeau, Florida’s 19-year-old rookie winger, has five goals in 12 NHL games. He wasn’t initially credited with his first goal of the night as he barely touched the puck — yet it found a way past Holtby to give Florida a 3-2 lead.

Later, Huberdeau scored a no-doubter by driving in on the Washington goalie and putting a pass from Peter Mueller into the back of the net for a 4-3 advantage.

With Florida holding a 4-3 lead, Shore picked up his first NHL goal by batting in a loose puck sent toward the cage by Jack Skille.

“This was a tough loss. A tough loss,’’ Dineen said. “We’re going to wake up tomorrow and keep hitting this thing straight on and move forward.’’

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