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Florida gunning for first win at Washington
WASHINGTON -- The Florida Panther's quest for their first win of the season brings them to Washington on Friday night to face the Stanley Cup champion Capitals.
Florida (0-2-2) lost to the Philadelphia Flyers 6-5 in a shootout Tuesday to match the franchise record for futility to start a season, which was set in 2000-01. The Panthers endured a five-goal second period but rallied to earn a point.
"We scored five goals on the road. We won the special teams battle and were the more aggressive," coach Bob Boughner told the Miami Herald. "So, there's a lot of good, but still some bad in our game we've got to eliminate."
The Panthers trailed 5-2 late in the second period before Mike Hoffman scored his first goal with Florida. Evgenii Dadonov and Aleksander Barkov scored third period goals, but the Flyers scored twice in the shootout off of Michael Hutchinson (21 saves) and the Panthers managed only one tally.
"I had the game in my hands to put us in another round of the shootout, and obviously it doesn't go in, so going to kick myself a little bit about that," said Panthers forward Frank Vatrano, who scored two goals in regulation. "We got another game coming up on Friday that we want to get two points."
The Capitals stopped a two-game skid with a 4-3 overtime win against the visiting Rangers on Wednesday night. Alex Ovechkin scored twice on the power play and Matt Niskanen swatted a rebound past Henrik Lundqvist for the game-winner.
Washington (3-2-1) has scored nine power-play goals in six games, but have scored just two five-on-five goals in their last three games.
Both Ovechkin's goals came from his 'office,' in the left circle and even though teams know what's coming, the penalty killers can't overplay Ovechkin with the likes of T.J. Oshi and Nicklas Backstrom on the ice. Ovechkin now has 232 career power play goals, tied for ninth all-time.
"To completely take him away, other guys are just too open and they're good enough to score," Niskanen told the Washington Post. "Are you going to leave (Oshi) open in the slot from the hash marks to cover Ovi? ... Guys are good at reading what's open. It's pretty lethal."
Rangers coach David Quinn came away impressed by Washington's power play.
"It's amazing watching them, how calm they are. They don't get rattled," he told nhl.com. "There's a confidence to them and a swagger to them, which they should have. They've been playing together a long time, and they're the defending Stanley Cup champions, so they should play with a swagger."
John Carlson had a goal and two assists, Backstrom had two assists, and Braden Holtby made 29 saves for Washington.
Holtby is 10-2-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average (GAA) and .920 save percentage against the Panthers. James Reimer gets the start for Florida and is 4-4-2 with a 2.16 GAA and a .937 save percentage versus the Capitals.
Ovechkin has 36 goals and 40 assists in 60 games against Florida. Nicklas Backstrom has 11 goals and 36 assists in 48 games.
Against the Flyers, Barkov moved past Pavel Bure for 10th in points in Florida history (252).
Updated October 18, 2018