Washington at Florida
When: 7:30 PM ET, Thursday, February 22, 2018
Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida
The Florida Panthers suffered through a disappointing finish to a road trip that started with three straight wins and begin a stretch of 11 home games in the next 12 outings Thursday night when the Washington Capitals pay a visit. The Panthers scored 17 goals combined to take the first three on their trek, but fell 7-2 at Winnipeg and were blanked 1-0 despite posting 40 shots Tuesday at Toronto.
“I thought the guys emptied their tanks and left it all out there,” Florida coach Bob Boughner told reporters after Tuesday’s setback that left the Panthers seven points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. “. … I have to commend these guys, but it just wasn’t out night.” Florida has three games in hand on Columbus for the second wild-card spot and hopes to take advantage of the favorable schedule ahead, which includes one road game at Sunshine State rival Tampa Bay, but will face a motivated Washington team Thursday. The first-place Capitals have dropped two of their last three and sit only five points ahead of fourth-place New Jersey after giving up three goals in the first period of a 4-2 setback against Tampa Bay on Tuesday. “It took us a period to get going tonight. ...” Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen told reporters. “The last two periods, man did we play hard. That’s a good sign.” TV:
7:30 p.m. ET, TVA, NBCS Washington, FS FloridaABOUT THE CAPITALS (34-19-7):
No. 1 goaltender Braden Holtby has lost four straight outings, allowing 19 goals in that stretch, but coach Barry Trotz told reporters, “He has been a rock since the day I’ve been here ... and he has been an elite goaltender. I look at him that way.” Captain Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 36th goal Tuesday and recorded nine of his team-best 67 points in the last six contests. Right wing T.J. Oshie (12 goals) has not scored in 10 games this month, managing three assists during that span, but posted four shots against Tampa Bay.ABOUT THE PANTHERS (26-25-6):
Left wing Jonathan Huberdeau has gone four games without a point and is tied with Vincent Trocheck (team-best 22 goals) for second on the team with 53. All-Star center Aleksander Barkov carried a lot of the scoring load on the five-game trip with two goals and five assists to take over the top spot on the team with 54 points - five shy of his career high in 2015-16. Florida came up empty on two power-play tries in Toronto on Tuesday, but is 12-for-34 with the man advantage in nine games this month and sits 19th in the league overall at 19.7 percent.OVERTIME
1. Florida D Keith Yandle owns the NHL’s longest active streak with 689 consecutive games played and reached 800 overall Tuesday.
2. The Capitals acquired D Jakub Jerabek from Montreal on Wednesday for a fifth-round pick in 2019.
3. This will be the rubber match of the three-game season series after each team earned one victory on the road.PREDICTION:
Panthers 4, Capitals 3
Stats and Records