Game Preview: Panthers @ Capitals

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The Capitals continue their three game homestand with a special Saturday night game against the Florida Panthers. 

It’s Hockey Fights Cancer Night at Verizon Center. Players will wear special lavender Capitals jerseys with the nameplate of the child who they’re honoring from the Make-A-Wish foundation Mid-Atlantic chapter. Jerseys and additional game-used equipment will be auctioned after the game with proceeds going towards Flashes of Hope, Hope for Henry, Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

THE MATCH-UP

Tonight’s game marks the second of three games between the former Southeast Division rivals. As we all know, conferences realigned in fall 2013 and now the Caps are a part of the Metropolitan Division while the Panthers are in the Atlantic. Washington defeated Florida on October 20 4-2 in Sunrise. These teams will meet again on the last night of the regular season on April 9th in DC.

FLORIDA

The Panthers got off to a great start to the season with a 3-1-1 mark but since then have won two of their last six games (5-5-1). Away from home, the Panthers are 1-3-1. Despite the topsy turvy roller coaster start to the season, the Panthers have won two of their last three games. Like the Capitals, the Panthers are coming into this game off of a 4-3 overtime win. The Panthers got their win over the Devils on Thursday night in Florida with Vincent Trocheck scoring the game-winner in overtime. His goal was his second of the night.

WASHINGTON

The Caps carry a 6-2-1 record and are coming off a thrilling 4-3 overtime win over the Jets on Thursday night. Alex Ovechkin netted the game-winning goal after the Capitals squandered a 3-0 lead in the third period.

Clawing the Cats – Washington has earned a point in 15 of their last 17 games against Florida and have won 10 of their last 11 games at Verizon Center against the Panthers. Their only blemish in that stretch was a 5-2 defeat back in February of this year in the Caps’ first game back after the infamous snowstorm.

Fast starts – The Capitals have lit the lamp first in nine of their 10 games this season. Their record when scoring first is 7-1-1 and the Caps are ranked first in the league in both scoring first and in wins after scoring the first goal. Last season the Capitals went 34-2-2 after scoring the first goal which was the highest win percentage scoring first in NHL history in an 82-game regular season with .895. In addition to scoring first, the Capitals have outscored their opponents 13-4 in the first period.

PK – The Caps have killed 12 consecutive penalties in their last four games and haven’t allowed a power play goal.

Protecting home ice – Braden Holtby has earned a point in seven of his last eight starts at home with a 5-1-2 record and registered a 2.21 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage. Ovechkin leads the Caps in points at Verizon Center with four goals and two assists. The Caps are 3-1-0 at home so far this season after finishing with the third-most home wins a season ago with 29 wins.

SHAVINGS

  • Thursday night’s win was Washington’s fourth in a row.
  • Alex Ovechkin earned three points in the win on Thursday with two goals and one assist. He now sits 25 points shy of 1,000 career points. When he reaches the milestone, Ovi would become the 37th player in NHL history to record 1,000 points with one team.
  • Alex’s overtime goal was the 18th overtime goal of his career. He ranks second in NHL history in overtime goals, trailing Jaromir Jagr (19) by one for first place.
  • Thursday’s game was the 29th time that Nicklas Backstrom and Ovechkin tallied three or more points in the same game. Nicky finished with one goal and two assists. In those games, the Capitals are 26-1-2.
  • Backstrom’s three points marked his 55th three-point game and 112th multi-assist game.
  • Ovechkin’s game-winning goal was the 91st of his career which tied him with Wayne Gretzky and Mark Recchi for 16th place on the all-time game-winning goals list.
  • Braden Holtby will get the start in net for the Caps.

GAME LINKS
Game Notes (Caps PR)
Caps Continue Homestand on Saturday vs. Panthers (Mike Vogel)
Pregame notes: Zach Sanford Gaining Confidence with Each Game (WaPo)
SKATE SHAVINGS: News and Notes From Caps’ Morning Skate (Mike Vogel)

By Michael Marzzacco

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