Capitals Vs. Panthers: Washington's Third Period Comeback Completes 2-1 Win

Alexes Ovechkin and Semin sparked a spirited rally in the third period as the Caps defeated the Panthers 2-1 in a pivotal Southeast Division matchup.

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Capitals Vs. Panthers: Washington's Third Period Comeback Comes Complete In 2-1 Win

Earlier this week, Washington Capitals associate goaltender coach and former Cap Olaf Kolzig likened Alex Ovechkin to a "rock star." Well, if Ovechkin was the opener, Alexander Semin was the headliner.

Ovechkin's goal in the third period brought the Caps back into a tie with the Florida Panthers, while Semin's goal put them up for good as the Caps completed the comeback in a 2-1 win.

Ovechkin and Semin's former teammate, Tomas Fleischmann, gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead with 40 seconds remaining in the first period when he sneaked behind the defense and fired Stephen Weiss' pass past former Panther Tomas Vokoun (22 saves), who was making his first appearance at BankAtlantic Center since joining the Caps this summer.

After a scoreless second period, Ovechkin brought Washington back into a 1-1 tie about five minutes into the third period when he found the puck in a scrum in front of the net and beat former Cap Jose Theodore (39 saves), who was also making his first appearance against his former club since leaving Washington in 2010. Semin scored the game-winning goal with just over six minutes remaining when his snap shot eluded Theodore. Ovechkin and Semin are the only two forwards to have scored for the Caps in their last four games.

The Panthers tried to tie the game late with Theodore pulled in favor of an extra attacker, but they did not convert.

The win moves Washington to just two points behind Florida for first place in the Southeast Division. The Caps return to action Saturday when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning.


Capitals Vs. Panthers Score Update: Tomas Fleischmann Goal The Difference As Florida Leads 1-0

After two periods in Sunrise, the Florida Panthers lead the Washington Capitals 1-0. The Caps have nearly doubled up the Panthers in shots, with a 30-16 advantage through forty minutes.

Mike Knuble returned for the Caps while Tomas Vokoun was back in net after missing two games this week due to illness. Vokoun, a former Panther, has already pitched two shutouts against his former team this season. In net for the Cats is former Cap Jose Theodore, who's been an integral part of their worst-to-first turnaround this season.

Tomas Fleischmann opened the scoring late in the first period with his 19th goal of the season. The Panthers' all-time assists leader Stephen Weiss put a nice soft floating pass from behind the net to Fleischmann, who was out front and ready to fire a wrister past Vokoun.

It looked like Mike Knuble had evened it up at 1-1 late in the second period, but the official immediately took the goal off the board, calling Knuble for goalie interference on a 50/50 play. It appeared to be incidental contact as Knuble worked down low and poked the puck past Theodore.

For more on this game and all things Capitals hockey, please check out Japers' Rink. For a view from the other bench, please check out SB Nation's Florida Panthers blog Litter Box Cats. And for more on this and every NHL game, please check out the SB Nation NHL hub page.


Capitals Vs. Panthers: Game Time, TV Schedule And More

The Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers have been going in opposite directions since their meeting on Feb. 7. That 4-0 victory was the Capitals' last win and has been followed by three consecutive losses in which they've picked up just a single point.

The Panthers have won 3 of 4 since then, allowing them to open up a four-point lead in the Southeast. This could be a particularly big game for the Caps as this is the first of a four-game road trip that could leave them with some serious ground to make up.

Location: Bank Atlantic Center, Sunrise, Fla.
Game Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV Channel: Comcast Sports Network
Announcers: Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin
Capitals Radio: WFED AM 1500
Announcers: John Walton and Ken Sabourin
Capitols-Panthers line: Capitals +101, Panthers -111; Panthers favored by 1.5.

We'll have plenty more on this game throughout the day on SB Nation D.C., so keep it locked to this StoryStream for all the latest news and updates. For more on this game and all things Capitals hockey, please check out Japers' Rink. For a view from the other bench, please check out SB Nation's Florida Panthers blog Litter Box Cats. And for more on this and every NHL game, please check out the SB Nation NHL hub page.


Capitals Vs. Panthers: Washington Faces Yet Another 'Playoff' Game In Florida

Lost in all of the scuttlebutt surrounding the Washington Capitals this week is the fact that they do have a game Friday and a big game at that.

The Caps head to Sunrise for the second time in as many weeks to face the Southeast Division-leading Panthers in what head coach Dale Hunter called a "playoff" game.

Washington has not played since Monday, when they lost their third consecutive game in a 5-3 loss to the San Jose Sharks. Since then, there has been plenty of news made off the ice, from head coach Dale Hunter candidly voicing his opinion of Michal Neuvirth's recent play to associate goaltender coach and former Cap Olaf Kolzig commenting on Alex Ovechkin's "rock star" attitude.

Not all news was negative, though. General Manager George McPhee said that the Caps have no interest in trading disgruntled forward Mike Knuble, who is expected to return to the lineup after being scratched for three consecutive games. Also, McPhee said that defenseman Mike Green will join the team on the four-game road trip and "could" play this weekend after having abdominal surgery January 17.

This will be the third meeting between the Caps and Cats this month; the Panthers won the first meeting in Sunrise 4-2 February 1, while the Caps rebounded with a 4-0 win at Verizon Center February 7.

Both teams have played 56 games and a Washington loss would put Florida up six points in the division with 25 games left.


George McPhee Does Not Disagree With Olaf Kolzig's 'Rock Star' Comments Regarding Alex Ovechkin

BALLSTON, Va. - Wednesday, Washington Capitals associate goaltender coach and former Cap Olaf Kolzig shared his thoughts on his former teammate, Alex Ovechkin. According to Kolzig, Ovechkin needs to "not get wrapped up too much with the rock star status that comes with being Alex Ovechkin" and find the exuberance that he possessed at the beginning of his career.

Thursday, General Manager George McPhee was asked for his take on Kolzig's comments and said that he had no issue with them.

"I don't disagree with anything that Olie said," McPhee said. "What we have to understand is that Olie had one of the highest work ethics of any player we've ever seen. It's hard for anybody to match his level. He holds everybody to that standard. But you look at a player like Ovechkin, he wouldn't be who he is if he didn't work hard."

At the beginning of his career, Ovechkin's talent carried him to four 50-goal seasons in his first five years along with two Hart Trophies (MVP), two Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophies (most goals) and one Art Ross Trophy (most points). Since the start of last season, however, Ovechkin has only 56 combined goals and is on his pace for his second career-worst season in as many years.

According to McPhee, Ovechkin needs to be pushed, but that is something that all great players have to go through.

"Like all the great ones, whether it's a [Mario] Lemieux or a [Sergei] Fedorov or Corey Perry or an Ovechkin, there are nights when you may not be giving it everything, but your skill makes a difference and you help your club win a game," McPhee said.

"What we all learn is they have to be reminded once in a while. If you're working hard all the time, that's when you become unstoppable," he continued. "And you have to push them from time to time. A lot of the great ones have done that and Ovie does it from time to time, too. Sometimes, the game comes easy to you and you have to remind them we're not going to win consistently doing that. If we push you and you're working hard every night, that's when you're a handful."


George McPhee: Capitals Have No Interest In Trading Mike Knuble

BALLSTON, Va. - Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee addressed the media after practice Thursday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and touched on a number of issues, including the recent status of forward Mike Knuble.

Knuble, who has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games, has expressed his frustrations with not playing lately and has been the subject of trade rumors, but McPhee was adamant that Knuble will remain with Washington.

"We haven't had any conversations," McPhee said. "He's a great pro, a great guy. We have no interest in trading him. He hasn't asked for that."

Knuble has only three goals and 11 points this season in what is shaping up to be arguably the worst season of his career. Knuble has made it clear that he is not happy, but McPhee said that he expected that.

"I don't expect him to be happy, but sometimes the best thing you can do for a player is sit him down for a couple games," McPhee said. "It's never easy. Nobody likes rejection."

When asked if Knuble will return to the lineup during the Caps' upcoming four-game road trip, which begins Friday against the Florida Panthers, McPhee said that he expects him to be. Head coach Dale Hunter, however, said that Knuble will be a "game-time decision."


Capitals Vs. Panthers: Mike Green Practices With Team For First Time Since Abdominal Surgery

BALLSTON, Va. - Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green joined the rest of his teammates for Wednesday's practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex, which is the first time he has done so since undergoing abdominal surgery January 17.

Green, who has only appeared in 10 games this season with a myriad of injuries ranging from a twisted right ankle to a strained right groin muscle, took part in two lengthy workouts this week, including a 45-minute workout during Tuesday's optional skate. Afterwards, Green said that he felt really good and that he hasn't "felt like this for a long time." Wednesday, Green reiterated that sentiment.

"I've got to get my lungs back, but overall, I felt good," Green said. "Another day that’s in the right direction."

Neither Green nor head coach Dale Hunter would commit, however, to the former joining the Caps on their upcoming four-game road trip, which begins Friday against the Florida Panthers.

"I thought he looked pretty good," Hunter said. "He’s skating well. We worked him on the power play and he moved well up top, so he looks good, but we have to wait and see tomorrow."


Olaf Kolzig Shares Thoughts On Dale Hunter's Coaching Style

BALLSTON, Va. - Washington Capitals head coach Dale Hunter has had some of his recent decisions roundly criticized, from his decision to scratch Mike Knuble for three consecutive games to candidly voicing his opinion on Michal Neuvirth's recent play.

Olaf Kolzig, Washington's associate goalie coach and Hunter's former teammate from 1989-1999, showed his support for Hunter while speaking with reporters Wednesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

"He's a old school, no-nonsense kind of guy," Kolzig said of Hunter. "He gave up a pretty lucrative, successful stint down in London [of the Ontario Hockey League] to chase the one thing that's eluded him: a Stanley Cup. He's coming in here, he's got nothing to lose. He wants to do everything possible to put the team in a position to win a Stanley Cup. Sometimes you make decisions as a coach that are unpopular."

Kolzig, who mentioned that Hunter was under contract for one year, confirming a report that came out earlier this season, also said that while some of Hunter's decisions may draw the ire of his players and the team's fans, it will be a moot point if the Caps are successful.

"As a coach, you're going to bruise some egos, going to hurt some feelings, but that's what he believes in," Kolzig said. "If that's what it's going to take to get this team close to winning a Stanley Cup, I think at the end of the day, if that happens, all those unpopular decisions will all of a sudden look pretty smart."


Olaf Kolzig: Alex Ovechkin Needs To 'Not Get Wrapped Up Too Much In Rock Star Status'

BALLSTON, Va. - Washington Capitals associate goalie coach and former Caps goalie Olaf Kolzig paid a rare visit to Kettler Capitals Iceplex Wednesday. Kolzig's reason for being at practice was to work with the Caps' current goalies, particularly Michal Neuvirth, but he also shared his thoughts on Alex Ovechkin's recent offensive struggles when speaking with reporters.

Kolzig, who played with Ovechkin for three seasons (2005-06 to 2007-08), said that for Ovechkin to regain the scoring touch that made him one of the most dynamic superstars in NHL history, he needs to go back to his roots.

"For Alex it's a work ethic," Kolzig said. "He just has to get back to being the way he was in his younger days and maybe not get wrapped up too much with the rock star status that comes with being Alex Ovechkin."

"Alex was getting away from playing hard, no-nonsense, honesty type of hockey, exuberant hockey that he displayed the first three years that he was in the league," Kolzig continued. "I think that's what endeared him to everybody. Then all of a sudden, he was still the same Alex, he was celebrating a certain way and what endeared him to everybody now made him look like a villain. Part of it is he's probably feeling not as loved as he used to be."

After scoring 50-plus goals in four of his fist five seasons in the NHL, Ovechkin has 56 combined goals since the start of the 2010-11 season, including only 23 this season through 53 games.

Part of that, according to Kolzig, has to do with the absence of Nicklas Backstrom, who has not played since suffering a concussion January 3, as well as teams getting "a handle on him on maybe how to close the gap on him and not allow him those fantastic 1-on-1 goals that he's used to scoring."


Mike Knuble Opens Up About Recent Healthy Scratches, Trade Rumors

BALLSTON, Va. - Mike Knuble has been a healthy scratch for the Washington Capitals for three consecutive games, causing trade winds to blow in his direction.

Recently, Knuble shot down rumors regarding the Caps' opponent Monday, the San Jose Sharks, saying that any moves to San Jose "have no merit and are pure speculation."

Yet, Knuble was frank in his response to his recent benching after Tuesday's morning skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and what that could mean for his future.

"No, have to face reality," Knuble said when asked if he had requested a trade. "You can handle it a number of ways. You can be content and just sit there and let things happen as they may or you can force an issue. You have to kind of decide that."

"It's two weeks before the trade deadline," he continued. "If a player is not going to be used now or in the near future, if they don't have plans, then that player probably wouldn't want to be there."

The 39-year-old Knuble is in the midst of arguably the worst season of his career. He has three goals, 11 points and a minus-14 rating, all of which apparently forced head coach Dale Hunter to bench him. While Knuble's statistics may not be impressive, Stanley Cup contenders tend to look for complementary veterans to boost their rosters for the postseason.

"We're all competitive and we want to play and we all want to contribute," Knuble said. "If it's not irritating you and you're not thinking of your options then you may as well stop playing then. That's how we are in our league. You want to go somewhere where you're going to play and contribute to the team. If you can't do it one place, then you've got to go."

The NHL trade deadline is February 27 at 3 p.m. EST.


Capitals Vs. Panthers: Dale Hunter Shares Thoughts On Mike Knuble, Michal Neuvirth

Head coach Dale Hunter expressed his feelings about his recent decisions to bench Mike Knuble and start Braden Holtby Monday.

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