For a second straight game, the Florida Panthers put together a third period comeback, defeating the Washington Capitals 4-3 in overtime at Capital One Arena.
Sam Reinhart’s overtime winner wrapped up Florida’s short one-game road trip with two points as the team improved to 7-4-1 on the season.
Here’s tonight’s takeaways.
Ekman-Larsson scores his third goal of the season — surpasses previous season’s high
Last season in Vancouver, Oliver Ekman-Larsson had just 2 goals in 54 games with the Canucks before he was shut down for the year due to an injury he picked up back in February.
Wednesday night against Washington, Ekman-Larsson scored his third goal of the year, already surpassing his goal total from season in 42 fewer games.
Still without top defensemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour, Ekman-Larsson has been heavily relied on by head coach Paul Mauirce early on into the season.
Ekman-Larsson plays on the Panthers’ top defensive-pair, alongside fellow Swede Gustav Forsling. The duo leads the team in total ice-time, with Forsling averaging 24:17 a game, and Ekman-Larsson just under that at 23:58.
Florida’s second period play hurts them again
Entering Wednesday’s game, statistically Florida’s worst period of the season has been the second, and it wasn’t really close.
Through 11 games, the Panthers had a -5 goal differential in the second period — which was significantly worse than periods one and three — both of which were +2. Not much changed against the Capitals.
Heading into the second period, Florida led Washington 2-1. Yet, when the second intermission came around, the Panthers trailed 3-2.
Washington tied the game 6:13 into the period off a short-handed goal from Connor McMichael. They then took the lead with over four minutes before overtime after Anthony Mantha scored his second goal of the night.
The Panthers would not score in the period, as their goal differential in the second regressed to -7 on the season.
Reinhart, Barkov, Rodrgiues continue to rack up points
Two of the best Panthers forwards this season have been Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart.
For Reinhart, he leads the team in both goals and points (9 goals, 16 points). Barkov is second on the team in points (12 points in 11 games). Both players are a +9.
Paul Maurice has liked Barkov and Reinhart together on the top-line this season, and they have shown that it’s working.
“They’re driving the offensive game for us right now,” Maurice said about Barkov and Reinhart. “We know that we are a little challenged offensively, but those guys certainly aren’t.”
The third member of that top-line hasn’t been a slouch either. In his first season with the Panthers, Evan Rodrigues has been a fairly consistent contributor offensively so far, sitting fourth in team scoring with 10 points in 12 games. Rodrigues also leads the Panthers in plus/minus at +10.
“I think we’ve done a lot of good things, we’ve had some great starts in games, we’ve had some comeback wins,” Rodrigues said when asked about the team’s resilience. “We know that ability’s there, now I think it’s just continuing to do the small things over and over again… there’s definitely no quit in this team.”
Tonight, Reinhart, Barkov and Rodrigues all picked up a goal and an assist respectively en route to the Panthers seventh win of the season.
Another OT, another win
After needing a third period comeback to force overtime Monday night against Columbus, the Panthers were in the same situation Wednesday night, trailing 3-2 in the third period.
Florida’s Evan Rodrigues tied the game 3:33 into the third, and- that would be the only goal either team would score in the final period of regulation.
Both sides grabbed a point as overtime was on the schedule in the nation’s capital.
The extra period of hockey did not last long in Washington, D.C.
Just 15 seconds into overtime, Sam Reinhart put away his team-high ninth goal of the season to send the Panthers home with the extra point.
“Those are the type of points that are huge at this time of year that pay off later,” Reinhart said postgame. “We know how big it is to come out of the gates and start banking some points early in the year.”
Aleksander Barkov picked up the primary assist on Reinhart’s goal, while Evan Rodrigues got the secondary assist.