The Washington Capitals’ limp toward the offseason continued Saturday night against the Florida Panthers. Despite taking a 2-2 tie into the final five minutes of action, Washington lost 4-2 thanks to two goals in the last five minutes. Both of the final goals were scored by the Panthers, who had had goals waved off earlier in the game.
Matthew Tkachuk appeared to score the first goal with 3:32 remaining in the first period. After a review initiated by the NHL situation room, the goal was waved off for being tipped from above the height of the crossbar. On the other side of the first intermission, Sam Reinhart had the same thing happen to him. Dylan Strome scored the first official goal with 11:09 remaining in the middle period. Strome has three points so far this month and continues building on his career-high season total. Tom Wilson scored the Capitals’ other goal to reach 10 in only 30 games played. Between Strome and Wilson’s goals, Carter Verhaeghe and Aaron Ekblad tallied for the Panthers.
The Panthers took 37 total shots on net, and 18 of them came in the last 20 minutes. The Capitals took only three shots in the third period and 24 overall. With just over 10 minutes remaining to play, Florida had been credited with five scoring chances in the period, according to the NBC Sports Washington broadcast.
Tkachuk scored the game-winning goal from the left wing boards with exactly a minute to go. Charlie Lindgren attempted to clear the puck from behind the net, but Tkachuk intercepted it and fired it before Lindgren could get back into proper position between the pipes. Reinhart added an empty netter 20 seconds later.
The Capitals played with 17 skaters, the same as Thursday in Montreal. Alex Ovechkin has an upper-body injury, in addition to the lack of Anthony Mantha, TJ Oshie, and Trevor van Riemsdyk. Beck Malenstyn had been recalled from the Hershey Bears on Friday and played 11:37 with one shot on goal and three hits. Conor Sheary led Washington’s forwards with 20:41 of action, including over two minutes on both special teams. Only two offensive players did not see power-play time: Malenstyn and Aliaksei Protas; Nicolas Aube-Kubel was credited with one second on the man advantage.
The Capitals have three more games to play. They will host the New York Islanders on Monday and then immediately travel to Boston to play the Bruins Tuesday. Their season ends on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils.