Ovechkin-less Capitals best gritty Panthers in shootout

  • Michael Prosser

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom looks calm, cool, and collective after scoring the games first goal (courtesy of Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

No Ovechkin? No problem! Well at least that’s how it’s looking right now.

With the captain missing his second straight game with an upper-body injury, Nicklas Backstrom and the Capitals bested the Florida Panthers in a shootout last night 3-2 in front of their first home crowed in two weeks.

After drubbing the hapless Flyers on Friday night 7-0, the Caps welcomed their former Southeastern Division rivals to town, a team they had bested in 17 of their last 22 meetings and last night was no different.

Like he did in Friday’s win, Nicklas Backstrom started the scoring off late in the first period, his fifth of the season and his 16th point; a new team lead. Backstrom ripped a shot past Panthers goalie Scott Clemmonson after an Eric Fehr pass ricocheted off of a Panthers skate, right onto Backstrom’s stick for the score.

But the lead was short lived.

In the second period, Jesse Winchester broke up Michal Neuvirth’s shutout bid with his third goal of the season after Scottie Upshaw sprung him for a break away and put the biscuit in the basket right through Neuvirth’s five-hole as he was being pulled down from behind, which would have resulted in a penalty shot none the less. The 30 year old Cornell graduate is one goal shy of his career high of 4. But the Capitals would grab momentum and the lead back just 36 seconds later when John Carlson blasted a snap shot in the slot for his first of the year and also the second goal scored by a Capitals defenseman this season (Connor Carrick holds the other goal). Give the assist credit to rookie Michael Latta who scores his first NHL point this season, and Karl Alzner.

The Panthers however never gave up and clawed their way back to tying the game on the power play when former Capital Tomas Fleischman took a pass from Brian Campbell and broke the Capitals streak of 35 straight power plays killed off.

A scoreless overtime gave way to a shootout, and what a shootout it was.

After both Mikhail Grabovski and rookie Aleksander Barkov traded goals, Neuvirth stonewalled Jonathan Huberdeau on Florida’s second shootout attempt after “The Laichness Monster” Brooks Laich tightened the reigns. Backstrom’s shootout goal iced the game for the home team and sent the home fans back home happy for the first time in two weeks.

For Washington, they return to .500 hockey with a record of 7-7-0 and stay at home for their next two games, welcoming the new look New York Islanders and the Minnesota Wild respectively before traveling back west to take on the Coyotes and Avalanche. The Panthers, who’ve now lost five straight, travel back home to take on the reeling Edmonton Oilers before heading back on the road to take on the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, and New York Rangers next weekend.

OTHER GAME NOTES:

. Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov has been reassigned back to Hershey of the AHL

. Panthers forwards Sean Burgenheim and Kris Versteeg were scratched from the lineup tonight as was defenseman Matt Gilroy. Jay Beagle, Orlov, and Alex Ovechkin were all scratches for the home team.

. Jason Chimera’s four game goal streak came to an end on Saturday night. Chimera registered no points, one shot and was a -1.

. Panthers center and former San Jose Shark Marcel Goc and rookie Michael Latta exchanged fists during the first period. Goc was given a 10 minute misconduct penalty for instigating after Latta checked Goc. Goc jumped up, started the fight, and lost.

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Michael Prosser

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