The Washington Capitals had a 15-point lead over the Florida Panthers in the Southeast Division standings. They won all seven games against the Panthers last season, most in blowout fashion. And yet, when the two teams met at the Verizon Center tonight, it was the Panthers that emerged victorious.
The Panthers got a late second-period goal and two third-period goals to stun the Capitals 3-0 in front of a group of fans that booed the team as they departed the ice. The loss is Washington's fourth straight and comes on the heels of a shocking shootout loss to Toronto on Monday in a game the team led comfortably in the third period.
The Capitals had their chances in this game. They outshot the Panthers 36-32 and had eight power play opportunities. But they couldn't find a way to cash in, much like they couldn't against Montreal in the playoffs last year. Their offense is intact, unlike their defense, which doesn't have Jeff Schultz right now, but it didn't come through tonight.
The Capitals have not lost four straight games since very early last season, when they lost four straight from October 6 to October 12. The fact that the last two losses have come against bad teams is very concerned. Washington isn't healthy, but they need to pick things up.