The Washington Capitals absolutely demolished the Florida Panthers last night, scoring seven goals in a 7-1 route. Washington held a 4-0 lead in the first nine minutes, and the margin would continue to build from there.
But as nice as that victory was, we can’t point to it and say, “The Capitals are back.”
With the win, the Capitals have now won seven of their last 10, and sit just one game below .500 (10-11). There’s no question they’ve improved immensely since starting the season 2-9, however, this win by itself does not deem the Capitals as legitimate contenders. They beat the Panthers, who currently have the worst record in hockey, and are also dealing with injuries. So they beat the worst team while it’s even worse than usual.
However, there were certainly positives in the game. Mathieu Perrault’s last-minute goal looked absolutely fantastic, and while the Panthers had all but given up at that point, Perrault had not shown that level of stick-handling skill all season long up to that point. Alex Ovechkin racked up three points, and while, again, the Panthers are no Pittsburgh Penguins, Ovechkin’s shot looked as good as ever. His second-period goal looked absolutely textbook, and he seemed to have a certain awareness that he lacked prior to last night. He finally started taking shots in places he normally doesn’t (as to the regular sniper spots or failed attempts at driving to the net), and it worked. If Adam Oates can draw up plays to get Ovechkin looks in fresh locations more consistently, that’s going to carry Washington a long way.
The Caps will look to make it eight out of 11 on Saturday as they travel up to Long Island to face the Islanders at 1 PM EST. New York is coming off a 2-1 loss to the Rangers, whom the Capitals will host at the Verizon Center on Sunday afternoon at 12:30 PM EST.