NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, January 11th (All times eastern)
Washington Capitals (24-12-6) at Florida Panthers (18-20-2), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Capitals have put together an eight-game point streak despite a lack of offense from Alex Ovechkin. Regaining first place in the Southeast Division could be in the near future if the Russian sniper gets hot.
Visiting Washington will try to avoid its first regulation loss in nearly a month this evening as it concludes a home-and-home series with the Florida Panthers at BankAtlantic Center.
Ovechkin has just 15 goals on the season and went into Saturday's home meeting with the Panthers having scored four times in his previous 23 games. The former Hart Trophy winner notched a vintage game-winner though, lifting the Capitals to a 3-2 victory and a 6-0-2 mark since their last regulation loss on Dec. 18.
The late tally was big by Ovechkin, who also had an assist, after Florida's Evgeny Dadonov accounted for the final margin on his goal with 1:37 left in regulation.
"I'm glad we got the win here today," said Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau. "When we got the lead in the third period it was a breath of fresh air. Some of our players are starting to get their confidence here."
Washington, which was blanked at home by Florida, 3-0, back on Dec. 9, is one point back of idle Tampa Bay for first place in the division after besting Florida for the seventh time in eight games. The Capitals have won three straight and six of seven in Sunrise and Ovechkin has seven goals and six assists in his last 10 against Florida.
Mike Green and Eric Fehr also scored and had assists, with Fehr having now notched four tallies and three helpers in his last six games.
With the possibility of Ovechkin heating up, the Caps would love for Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin to break out of their 16 and 14-game goal droughts, respectively, but Semin won't get a chance tonight as he did not travel with the team due to a lower-body injury suffered on Saturday.
Making his career-high fifth straight start, Semyon Varlamov totaled 25 saves to improve to 2-1-0 with a 2.34 goals-against average lifetime versus the Panthers. He has a 1.19 GAA over his recent string of five starts.
Mike Santorelli scored in the first period for Florida and backup Scott Clemmensen made 24 saves for the Panthers, who have lost a season high-tying three straight and five of seven. David Booth assisted on both goals.
"Obviously, things weren't perfect out there today, but the effort was there," said Florida head coach Peter DeBoer. "But we're a team who has a small margin of error and if we make a few mistakes in a game we're gonna lose."
Looking to avoid dropping four in a row for the first time since March 25-31, Florida kicks off a six-game homestand this evening.
Tomas Vokoun is likely to get the start in net for Florida and is 8-12-1 with a 2.58 GAA versus the Caps.
01/11 10:53:32 ET