Panthers Vs. Capitals: Caps Find Offense Late, Hold On For 3-2 Victory Over Florida

The Capitals' "Young Guns" factored on the scoresheet in a 3-2 win over the Panthers. Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom combined for five points.

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Panthers Vs. Capitals: Caps Find Offense Late, Hold On For 3-2 Victory Over Florida

The Washington Capitals were looking for any sort of offense after their shutout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday. it took almost the entire game, but the Capitals found their offensive spark in a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers Saturday at Verizon Center.

A sloppy first 20 minutes didn't help either team, but the Panthers took advantage of the Capitals' lackadaisical play to score the game's first goal on the game's first shot. A defensive breakdown in the defensive zone gave David Booth an open path to Dmitry Kulikov in the slot. Kulikov drew Semyon Varlamov out of the crease and found Mike Santorelli open in the crease for the tic-tac-toe goal at 3:49.

After a slow first period, Washington finally got on the board at 5:32 thanks to Eric Fehr, who scored his third goal in three games. Mathieu Perreault passed to Mike Green on an odd-man rush. Green faked a shot and wrapped around the net, finding Fehr right in front. Fehr would lift the puck over Scott Clemmensen for the top-shelf goal. Coincidentally at the time, Fehr had Washington's last three goals; he scored the last two goals of the Winter Classic and the Caps were shutout Tuesday.

"First 10 minutes was a sleepy game," Alex Ovechkin said. "End of the second we just wake up and then play better and pressure their defense because they were tired. In the third period we play better than second."

The Panthers dictated the pace of the third period's first 10 minutes, getting several quality scoring chances, but the Caps turned things in their favor at the midway point. Fehr returned the favor at 13:07 by setting up Green on the power play to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead. Fehr found Green on the right faceoff circle and sent a pass his way. Green deked to his backhand and beat Clemmensen with a low shot to give Washington the lead for good.

But the scoring wasn't done for either team. First, Ovechkin returned to the goal-scoring side of the scoresheet at 16:05 in vintage fashion. Ovechkin found an opening along the left boards and sprinted towards the net. Ovechkin finished the shot despite being knocked airbourne for his 15th goal of the season.

Florida responded just 2:18 later to cut the Capitals' lead back to one. Evgeny Dadonov scored his third goal of the season on a rebound from Booth. Florida would pull Clemmensen in favor of the extra attacker and would soon earn a two-man advantage after Nicklas Backstrom took a cross-checking penalty. The Capitals would survive 1:05 down by two men to secure the victory.

"With the way we're playing right now, we've got to stay patient," Fehr said. "We have to play defensively and make sure we're not giving [the opposition] any odd-man rushes or easy opportunities."

The Capitals will see the Panthers again Tuesday in Sunrise to complete the home-and-home. In the mean time, the Capitals are just happy to be back on the scoresheet.

"Just to get the lead in the third period was like a breath of fresh air," head coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You come off of a shutout and it seems you're never going to score and every goal you get is such a difficult goal. You wonder if you're ever going to score again."

 

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Panthers Vs. Capitals: Eric Fehr Ties Game, Caps And Panthers Tied At 1-1 After Second Period

The Capitals are still looking to find their offensive flow, but at least they tied the game.

Eric Fehr scored an early goal to tie the Caps with the Florida Panthers at 1-1 after two periods.

After a slow first period, Washington finally got on the board at 5:32 thanks to Fehr's goal, his third in three games. Mathieu Perreault passed to Mike Green on an odd-man rush. Green faked a shot and wrapped around the net, finding Fehr right in front. Fehr would lift the puck over Scott Clemmensen for the top-shelf goal. Coincidentally, Eric Fehr has Washington's last three goals; he scored the last two goals of the Winter Classic and the Caps were shutout Tuesday.

There would be no considerable offense for the rest of the period, but the Caps got the better of the chances. Shots are now in favor of Washington, who has a 17-15 edge.

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Panthers Vs. Capitals: Slow Start Has Caps Trailing Panthers 1-0 After First Period

After being shutout at home Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals were looking for some instant offense. Unfortunately, they were lucky to get any offense at all.

Washington is still looking for a goal as they trail the Florida Panthers 1-0 after 20 minutes.

The Capitals' power play, 7 for 64 in their last 17 games entering Saturday, failed on an early attempt and struggled to find any sort of offensive momentum after several early offsides calls.

The Panthers took advantage of the Capitals' lackadaisical play to score the game's first goal on the game's first shot. A defensive breakdown in the defensive zone gave David Booth an open path to Dmitry Kulikov in the slot. Kulikov drew Semyon Varlamov out of the crease and found Mike Santorelli open in the crease for the tic-tac-toe goal at 3:49.

It took the Caps 13:15 to finally get a shot in the offensive zone; the first shot of the game came from a Jason Chimera clearing attempt that happened to end up on net. The Capitals ended up with five shots on net to the Panthers' six.

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Panthers Vs. Capitals: Starting Lineup

Via Washington Post, here is tonight's starting lineup for the Washington Capitals as they prepare to face off with the Florida Panthers at Verizon Center.

Forwards
Laich-Johansson-Ovechkin
Semin-Backstrom-Knuble
Chimera-Perreault-Fehr
Hendricks-Steckel-Beagle

Defense
Hannan-Green
Alzner-Carlson
Schultz-Poti

Goal
Varlamov
Neuvirth

Scratches: John Erskine and Tyler Sloan.
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Panthers Vs. Capitals: Semyon Varlamov Expected To Start, Mathieu Perreault Could Play

Via Washington Post's Katie Carrera, Semyon Varlamov was the first goaltender off of the ice during Saturday's morning skate, which means that he should start in goal tonight when the Capitals take on the Florida Panthers.

It will be Varlamov's fifth straight start. In his last four starts, Varlamov is 3-0-1 and has only surrendered four goals, stopping 127 of 131 shots.

Mathieu Perreault, who did not expect to play Saturday when asked Friday, believes he can against the Panthers. Perreault was wearing a metal cage that attached to his helmet, but does not plan to wear it if he does indeed play because it limited his vision and made him dizzy. Perreault suffered a broken nose December 26 against the Carolina Hurricanes, but played in the Winter Classic last Saturday.

In other injury news, Boyd Gordon is closer to returning from an infected right foot injury. Gordon has missed the last nine games with the injury and skated with John Erskine, Tyler Sloan and D.J. King after practice.

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Panthers Vs. Capitals: Caps Want To Put Historic Loss Behind Them With Divisional Win Against Florida

The Washington Capitals' win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Winter Classic last Saturday was a historic one for the franchise. Tuesday's loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was also historic, but not in a good way.. The Caps will look to rebound in the first game of a home-and-home against the Florida Panthers Saturday at Verizon Center.

Washington lost 1-0 to the Lightning Tuesday, the first 1-0 overtime loss in franchise history and first 1-0 loss since 2004. Martin St. Louis scored in overtime to spoil Semyon Varlamov's shutout try, despite making 37 saves.

The lack of scoring has been nothing new to the Capitals' primary scorers, especially Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin has four goals in his last 20 games. Perhaps an injury has hampered his usually-potent scoring touch; Ovechkin received a cortisone shot in his left arm after Tuesday's game and didn't handle the puck until practice Friday.

Ovechkin should be ready to go Saturday, but might find himself on a different line. Head coach Bruce Boudreau switched up lines at practice Friday, putting the left winger Ovechkin on the right side and dropping him to the second line. Boudreau said that separating Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom might spark their offensive production; Backstrom has not scored in his last 15 games.

Maybe moving Alexander Semin to the first line in place of Ovechkin will help him, too. Despite leading the team with 18 goals, Semin has not scored since November 28.

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