The Capitals traveled to south Florida Wednesday afternoon, following their morning practice at Kettler. The Caps are in the Sunshine State in advance of their Thursday evening tilt with the Florida Panthers. Puck-drop is 7:30 PM and will be carried by CSN.
The Capitals face the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center on Thursday in the first of three meetings between last season’s Eastern Conference divisional champs. Washington has earned a point in six of their last seven games at Florida (4-1-2). The Capitals are 61-38-9-9 all-time against the Panthers and 28-23-4-4 on the road against Florida.
Philipp Grubauer got the start for the Capitals in all three games against the Panthers last season, but that streak looks to be coming to an end, as it’s likely Braden Holtby will return to action on Thursday night. James Reimer got the start for the Panthers in their last game against Tampa Bay, so it looks like Roberto Luongo will get the start for the Panthers against the Capitals.
The Panthers (2-0-1) started the season with two consecutive wins on home ice, beating the New Jersey Devils 2-1 in OT and the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. The Panthers lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday night in Tampa. The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos scored a game tying goal with 5.5 seconds left in the game to send the contest into overtime.
The Panthers crushed a rusty Caps team in their last meeting back in February at Verizon Center, even though the Capitals outshot the Panthers 38-19 for the game. This was the Panthers first win at Verizon Center since December of 2010. (Game recap here)
The Panthers were stricken with injuries before the season even started. Center Nick Bjugstad suffered an upper body injury on October 5th, and left wing Jonathan Huberdeau was lost to a lower body ailment two nights later.
The Capitals have won two straight following their opening night, shootout loss to the Stanley Cup champions in Pittsburgh.
Power On? – The Capitals struggling power play was somewhat resurrected on Tuesday night with a pair of power play goals against the Colorado Avalanche. After starting the season 0 for 8 on the man-advantage for the first two games, the Capitals responded Tuesday night going 2 for 5 on the powerplay, for a season total of 2 of 13 (or 7% and 20th in the league). The Capitals Penalty Kill is currently ranked 27th in the league at 71.4%.
Shots Fired – The Capitals lead the NHL in shots/game played at a 36.3 average. The Capitals have out-shot their opponents 109 to 70 through the first three games of the season, and have taken 40 or more SOG in two of their first three games.
Stingy Defense – The Capitals are also first in the NHL in goals against. The Capitals have given up only one even-strength goal for the first nine periods of play this season, and three goals total for a 1.00 GA/GP.
- Philipp Grubauer’s shutout against the Colorado Avalanche was the first shutout by a goalie in the NHL this season.
- Alex Ovechkin’s goal against the Avalanche continued his streak of scoring his first goal of the season within the first three games of the season.
- The Capitals have scored the first goal of a game in all three of their games this season.
- The Capitals have scored in the first period of all three games this season.
- Each of the three games has had a two-goal scorer for the Capitals. (Burakovsky, Winnik, Oshie).
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marks the first time Washington has opened a season with a multi-goal scorer in each of its first three games since the 2009-10 season (4 games: 10/1/09 – 10/8/09).
- Slick Nick – Nicklas Backstrom earned an assist on Tuesday against Colorado, marking his third assist in three games this season. In addition, Backstrom won 13 of 17 faceoffs (76.5%) on Tuesday.
By Jon Sorensen