You would have thought that Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau would have taken the glass half-full view of Washington’s overtime loss to the Florida Panthers.
After all, the Caps did recover from a three-goal deficit to earn a point. And it was an important point too because it drew the Capitals even with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team they are battling for first place in the Southeast Division. The Lightning still technically holds the standings lead because it has more wins, but the teams have now played the same number of games and have a showdown Wednesday night in Tampa Bay.
But Boudreau was still pretty ticked off when it was all over, specifically with his team’s power play. The unit ranked first in the league last season but is 12th this season, and according to Boudreau, that's the biggest reason his team isn’t in sole position of first place right now.
“If we’re going to look this lethargic on the power play, that’s where we’re losing games,” Boudreau said. “It’s not 5-on-5, it’s not the PK, it’s the power play. I keep putting the same guys out thinking okay this is going to turn around, but it’s not.”
Washington failed to score on five power plays against the struggling Panthers, including a brief two-man advantage it held early in the second period, which shouldn't really happen to a team that can trot out Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Mike Knuble when it has an extra skater on the ice. But what really got to Boudreau was the opportunity his team squandered after Florida rookie Evgeni Dadonov was penalized with about seven minutes remaining in regulation after the Caps had tied things up.
“We have a chance to win the game and we don’t even get a shot on goal,” Boudreau said. “We didn’t even get a chance to set it up in their zone, especially when (Panthers goalie Tomas) Vokoun was fighting the puck.
“Guys aren’t working hard enough.”
And that’s not the only problem, the coach said.
“It’s everything,” Boudreau said. “Bad plays, bad puck decisions, staying out too long, not winning battles not doing what we got over in the morning. That’s the stuff that’s ticking me off.”
Still there was a bright side that Boudreau saw, and that was the play of goalie Michal Neuvirth. The youngster is still battling with Semyon Varlamov to be designated No. 1, and starting his first game since before Christmas, he turned in a sparkling 37-save performance. Neuvirth was particulalry good in the first period when Florida outshot the visitors 20-7.
“If it wasn’t for him in the first period, it would have been 5-0,” Boudreau said. “He stole a point for us.”