Sat, 29 Jan 2022

Capitals look to extend win streak vs. rebounding Panthers

Field Level Media
30 Nov 2021, 08:40 GMT+10

The Florida Panthers' 11-game, season-opening home winning streak -- which tied a 58-year NHL record set previously by the Chicago Blackhawks -- is over, just as unpredictably as it started.

Now, the Panthers hope to start a similar streak, but their opponent on Tuesday night is not usually the cooperative type.

That would be the Washington Capitals, who arrive in South Florida on a three-game win streak, which included a 4-3 victory over the Panthers on Friday.

Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick against Florida on Friday.

"If I have a chance to shoot, I shoot," Ovechkin said. "If I have a chance to pass, I pass. Simple game, no?"

It seems like it is for Washington. The Capitals are 9-1-1 in their past 11 games, and they have been winning against some elite competition, including the Panthers and the Carolina Hurricanes, who were victimized 4-2 by Washington on Sunday.

Ovechkin scored in the Carolina game for career goal No. 749. He is 17 behind Jaromir Jagr for third place in NHL history.

But Ovechkin, who has 11 points (seven goals and four assists) in his past five games, is not the only Capitals player on a hot streak.

Defenseman John Carlson has produced five multi-point games out of his past seven contests. Capitals forward Tom Wilson has a four-game point streak that includes three goals and five assists.

In addition, Capitals goalie Ilya Samsonov is 9-0-1 this season.

Meanwhile, the Panthers had outscored visiting opponents 50-23 until falling to the expansion Seattle Kraken 4-1 on Saturday night.

Seattle entered that game with a 1-7-1 road record. Yet Florida scored a season-low one goal while facing its former netminder, Chris Driedger, who hadn't won a game all season.

The whole thing was bizarre.

Even so, the Panthers better be focused on Washington, or the Capitals are capable of running them out of their own arena.

"It's behind us now," Panthers winger Owen Tippett promised. "We're looking forward to our next game."

Florida's formula for success, according to Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette, is to "roll wave after wave of attack."

Jonathan Huberdeau, who has four goals and three assists in his past seven games, leads the first wave of Panthers. He tops the team in assists with 13 and in points (20), and he is even more important now that the Panthers have a pair of top-six forwards on the injured list.

Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov, considered Florida's top player, is week to week. Anthony Duclair, perhaps Florida's fastest skater, is day to day. Both have lower-body injuries, and both are tied for first on the team with nine goals and second on the team with 17 points.

If Barkov and Duclair remain out on Tuesday, the Panthers will likely need more from their next wave of forwards, players such as Carter Verhaeghe (16 points), Sam Bennett (12 points) and Sam Reinhart (12 points).

The Panthers are truly dangerous when their defensemen join the attack, especially Aaron Ekblad, Gustav Forsling and MacKenzie Weegar. Forsling leads Florida's defensemen with 12 assists, and Ekblad and Weegar have 11 each.

--Field Level Media

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