Mathieu Perreault wanted to show what he could do after four games as a healthy scratch. Eric Fehr wanted to show what he could do with some more playing time. Joel Ward wanted to show what he could do with more responsibility.
Aggressive forechecking resulted in goals. They stayed out of the penalty box, for the most part. Defenders deftly navigated the Panthers' forecheck. And goalie Braden Holtby jumpstarted the offense with a superb pass that resulted in a goal.
Simply put, the Caps have lost a lot early under new coach Adam Oates. They've played poorly and lost and played well and lost.
Erskine expressed remorse Monday about giving Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds a concussion on Friday night, though the Washington Capitals defenseman did not agree with NHL vice president of player safety Brendan Shanahan's assertion that he delivered a "reckless elbow" to the head.
After a handful of penalties here and more than a few power-play goals by opponents there, it didn't take long for the Washington Capitals to realize they had to stay out of the box to win games. When they did that Sunday, the first victory of the season followed.
It was Dec. 16 and Ward was watching his Baltimore Ravens like any other Sunday when Doug Currie, his coach at the University of Prince Edward Island, called. The news was unbelievable: Ward's college teammate and close friend Drew Power had died in a house fire.
There was a reason why when Adam Oates learned the NHL lockout was ending, he and his coaching staff sprinted to the Washington Capitals’ offices to get ready for the season. Time was short and the to-do list was long. That was on full display in the Capitals’ 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday to open the season.
In an odd bit of serendipity, Tom Poti on Saturday found himself in the same place he was two years and seven days earlier.
With the lockout over and training camps set to begin Sunday, the league and its players begin the task of trying to bring fans back. For the Capitals and many teams, fans will return, but the harm done to the NHL's reputation is hard to ignore.