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Reeling Panthers fall to Capitals, 4-2

Matthew DeFranks, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Hockey

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Forty-seven games into the season, as the standings become steeper and the opportunities become fewer and the summer enters clearer view, the Florida Panthers' flaws become more apparent.

During a 4-2 loss to Washington on Friday night at the BB&T Center, the holes appeared to be plugged, even if temporarily, before the first-place Capitals erased two different deficits in handing the Panthers a third straight loss. Florida entered the All-Star break with seven losses in its last nine games.

Secondary scoring has been a sore spot for the Panthers this season, but Denis Malgin attempted to cure the sickness with two goals on Friday night. It was Malgin's first career multi-goal game, coming on the first night of a reshuffled forward corps that placed him on the second line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck.

Goaltender Harri Sateri kept the Panthers in the game early on in just his second career NHL start. But a pair of Capitals goals in the second period ruined Sateri's home debut as he fills in due to injuries to starter Roberto Luongo and backup James Reimer. He finished with 42 saves as the Capitals peppered him with an array of one-timers and odd-man rushes.

But the plugs burst and the holes revealed themselves again.

On a night when Aleksander Barkov, Huberdeau and Trocheck didn't score, no one else (outside Malgin) did either. The team wasted three early power-play opportunities and passed up other chances by dishing the puck instead of shooting it.

 

Malgin snapped a 10-game goalless drought with a goal 11:02 into the first period. After Jared McCann forced a turnover in the offensive zone, the puck caromed to Malgin in the left circle. He drifted into the slot and beat Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby with a wrist shot to his blocker side to put the Panthers up 1-0.

His second of the night came at 6:40 of the second period, giving the Panthers another one-goal lead after Washington tied it. Malgin was stationed to Holtby's right on the edge of the crease as Huberdeau jabbed a puck over to him. Malgin's shot went off the post, then off Holtby and then in.

For Malgin, the goal was his sixth of the season, matching his total from his rookie year last season. The 5-foot-9 forward has been streaky this season, with separate three-game goal and three-game point streaks this year.

The Capitals responded by displaying why they were in first place in the Metropolitan Division and the Panthers entered Thursday 11 points out of a playoff spot.

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