Comeback! Caps beat Panthers 5-4 (SO)

Tonight Mike Knuble joined the ranks of officiater-haters everywhere.

If I told you that tonight’s game hinged on Brendan Morrison (no goals since 12/23) and Brooks Laich (no goals since 12/28) scoring, you probably wouldn’t have been optimistic. If I told you that of five back-to-back game pairs, the Caps lost the second game four out of five times, would you have a good outlook for tonight? Well, forget you, dude. The Washington Capitals proved their depth of talent and character in a stunning come-from-behind shootout win over the Florida Panthers.

It could have gone very differently. After last night’s– let’s just call it a hosedown– the Caps could have lost their  momentum and zombie-shambled through the rest of their trip down south. One could argue that Tuesday showed the Caps’ self-detonating: losing their composure and revealing their myriad flaws.  I think instead they showed grit and character in that loss. The Caps left Tampa last night with some scrap of dignity and, bouyed by Matt Bradley, a renewed sense of teamwork. That spirit was paramount in Sunrise.

The first period opened like we all feared it might. The Panthers led 2-0, and the Caps’ offense was absent. Michal Neuvirth’s puck-stopping came up short.  Stop me if you heard this one before.  It seemed like Florida would be able to coast to an easy win over thebestteamevertoplaythesportofhockey. But no. Not tonight. Not under the new reign of Captain Alexander Ovechkin and his merry men. The boys mounted an epic and late-brewing comeback, earning a teeth-clenching shootout finish. On the back of Tomas Fleischman, the Caps fought for this win.

If you can’t tell already, this game is the bizarro version of last night’s game. Let’s break it down.

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