SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers saw their power play fall flat in Game 1 of their first-round series against the Washington Capitals, going 0-2 with limited success on both chances.
The Panthers could not get the cycle game going and allowed the Capitals to dump the puck in whenever they got a handle on it while Washington’s neutral zone trap limited the success Florida had in its zone entries.
“I did not like our execution in general,” Panthers coach Andrew Brunette said.
“I thought we got way too cute, we were trying to make that extra play with 2-on-0 breakaways and we were just trying to do some things uncharacteristically that we did not do all year.
“The power play has not been as fluid as it has been, but we’ll adjust.”
The result: Three shots, two scoring chances, zero high-danger chances. Zero goals.
“We did a lot of good things, got a few chances, but at the end of the day, you just need results,” Claude Giroux said.
“We’re just going to keep moving the puck. We have a lot of skill on the power play, we just need to put a little work into it.”
Florida’s power play was clicking particularly near the end of the season.
From March 18 until the finale, the Panthers produced at a 26.1 percent clip, which tied for seventh in the NHL at the time.
Of course, that was when Aaron Ekblad went down with his lower-body injury.
The Panthers had been rolling with a five-forward unit for much of the home stretch of the season with Ekblad out of the lineup. He returned Monday.
Ekblad slotted back in as the power play’s quarterback for Game 1 of the playoffs.
That position is fluid, however.
With all of the options they have at their disposal, they will return to five forwards if they feel the need to.
“He has been with us all year,” Brunette said. “He has been working on top so he’s been comfortable with it.
“We’ve had some moving parts a bit with [Anthony Duclair] and now we have Giroux, so we have the flexibility to move things around and we still have the option to go five forwards every once in a while, we’ll see how that goes.”
For now, Ekblad heads into Game 2 as the power play quarterback as he was working in that position during Thursday’s morning skate.
The Panthers are keying in on limiting those self inflicted mistakes and making the right plays in the meantime.
“They did a good job defensively, but I think we just didn’t execute,” Giroux said.
“We didn’t help each other out there and we just have to support each other and keep making the plays that are there. You just have to repeat it. We just have to do all the right things that we’ve been doing all year long and we’re going to be in a position to win.”
Morning Skate Updates
- Noel Acciari will take Ryan Lomberg‘s spot on the fourth line.
Sam Reinhart will move up to the second line right wing spot while Claude Giroux will play on the third line with Anton Lundell and Mason Marchment.
- Tom Wilson did not skate for the Capitals during their morning skate. Washington coach Peter Laviolette ruled him out for Game 2 and said he was day-to-day.
- Brett Leason will slot into the lineup for the Capitals fresh off of a call-up from the Hershey Bears with Wilson out of the lineup.
NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
FLORIDA PANTHERS V. WASHINGTON CAPITALS (Caps lead 1-0)
- Game 2: Thursday, 7:30 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, TBS
- Radio: WQAM 560 (flagship); WMEN 640 (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3 (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
PANTHERS V. CAPITALS
- Regular season series — Florida won 2-1: @Florida 5, Washington 4 OT (Nov. 4); @Washington 4, Panthers 3 (Nov. 26); @Florida 5, Washington 4 (Nov. 30)
- All-time regular season series: Capitals lead 67-44-11, 9 ties
- Playoff history: First meeting.
- First-round schedule — Game 1: Washington 4, @Florida 2; Game 2: Washington at Florida, Thursday, 7:30 (TBS/BSF); Game 3: Florida at Washington, Saturday, 1 (ESPN/BSF); Game 4: Florida at Washington, May 9, 7 (TBS/BSF); Game 5*: Washington at Florida, May 11; Game 6*: Florida at Washington, May 13; Game 7: Washington at Florida, May 15. *If necessary