NHL Game Summary - Florida at Washington
(Saturday, January 19th)
Final Score: Washington 5, Florida 3
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Viktor Kozlov scored two goals and Nicklas Backstrom tied a franchise rookie record with four assists, as the Washington Capitals defeated the Florida Panthers, 5-3, in a Southeast Division clash at the Verizon Center.
Backstrom matched Rolf Edberg, who recorded four assists on March 10, 1979 in a 7-5 win over the St. Louis Blues.
Alex Ovechkin posted a goal and an assist, and Mike Green collected two assists for the Capitals, who have won five of their last six contests. Alexander Semin and John Erskine also tallied, while Brent Johnson finished with 25 saves.
"We've officially reached mediocrity," said Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, of the club reaching the .500 mark. "We always have little goals and that was a little goal. I haven't mentioned it yet, we didn't mention it in the room and it wasn't part of the plan. We just thought we could get there."
Shawn Matthias lit the lamp twice for the Panthers, who have dropped four of their last five. Olli Jokinen had a goal and an assist, and Tomas Vokoun allowed all five goals on 35 shots.
"It's nice to get that out of the way=," Matthias said of his first NHL goal. "The first one, and nice to get two. I wish the team won. It would have made it even sweeter."
Trailing 3-0 after the opening frame, Florida roared back in the second.
Matthias, who made his NHL debut Friday night in New Jersey, recorded the first goal of his career 57 seconds into the frame. Right off the draw, Matthias dropped the puck to Bryan Allen and drove to the net. Allen settled the puck down and fired a shot that deflected off the Matthias' left glove
At 4:53, Matthias narrowed the deficit to one with a power-play goal. Standing in front of Vokoun, the rookie used the shaft of his stick to redirect Steve Montador's wrister from the left point.
Another power-play marker with 9:23 remaining knotted the game at three. Nathan Horton lifted a backhand pass from the left circle to Jokinen, streaking down the slot. Jokinen then ripped the puck past Johnson on the glove side.
Semin's power-play tally put the Capitals back on top. Vokoun stopped Ovechkin's laser from the right point, but Semin fired the rebound between the legs of Vokoun with 7:43 to play.
While up a man, Ovechkin gave his team some breathing room with his 36th goal of the season 4:40 into the third.
Washington maintained possession of the puck in the final minute, keeping Vokoun between the pipes, and picked up its 21st win of the season.
The Capitals exploded for three goals in the first period.
While on the power play, Kozlov opened the scoring when he tipped a Green slap shot from the right point up and over the left shoulder of Vokoun at 6:49. Erskine lit the lamp 66 seconds later with a slapper that rang off the near post. It was Erskine's first tally since October 5th.
Following a faceoff to the left of Vokoun, Kozlov stepped to the middle of the circle and snapped the puck past the surprised netminder with 8:44 remaining.
Washington captain Chris Clark missed his third straight contest due to a nagging groin injury...The Capitals are 4-1-2 this season when both Ovechkin and Semin score a goal in a game...Ovechkin and Semin also extended their goal-scoring streaks to four games...This was the fifth meeting of the season between these two teams. Washington has won the last two contests after dropping the first three...The Capitals are 15-0-1 when leading after two periods...Washington went 3-for-6 on the power play, while the Panthers finished 2-for-6 with the man-advantage.
01/19 23:29:14 ET