WASHINGTON (AP) — So far this season very little has gone right for the Washington Capitals.
On Saturday night, everything did.
Troy Brouwer scored two goals and Braden Holtby stopped 27 shots and assisted on Brouwer’s second goal and the Washington Capitals shut out the Florida Panthers 5-0 in the opener of a home-and-home series.
Mathieu Perreault and Joel Ward each added a goal and an assist, and Alex Ovechkin also scored for Washington (3-8-1), which ended a three-game losing streak one day after a players-only meeting.
“It was a great game all around tonight. Everybody chipped in,” Perreault said. “We worked really hard. We had a meeting yesterday and I think everybody today bought in.”
It was the first time Washington has scored more than three goals in a game this season.
“I thought tonight we had a really good rhythm for the whole game,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “We’ve had it at times, but tonight I felt comfortable just rolling all four lines.
The division rivals play at Florida (4-6-1) on Tuesday.
“You don’t like to end (the trip) like that because you ended on a sour note,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “We got outworked tonight.
“Everybody didn’t have enough to give tonight for us to be successful.”
Florida has lost six straight at the Verizon Center.
The Capitals took a 1-0 lead at 17:45 of the first period when the puck came out from behind the Panthers’ net off the stick of Florida’s Jerred Smithson to Capitals defenseman John Carlson in the right circle. Carlson’s shot was deflected past goalie Jose Theodore by Brouwer in front of the net.
With George Parros off for interference early in the second period, Holtby gathered in a Florida clearing attempt and sent a long pass to Brouwer just outside the Panthers blue line.
Brouwer skated in alone and from the right circle wristed a shot past Theodore into the upper left corner to make it 2-0 at 3:36 of the second period.
The Capitals have scored power-play goals in four consecutive games.
It was Brouwer’s fifth goal of the season and Holtby’s second career assist.
“He moves the puck as well as any goalie,” Brouwer said. “For him to have the vision to see up the ice and to be able to make his pass, it was pretty special by him.”
Holtby’s shutout was his first of the season and fourth of his career. With the game scoreless, he kept Florida off the board with a nice glove save against Kris Versteeg during a two-on-one break.
“Braden made the big save early for us, what we needed, on the two-on-one,” Oates said. “After that, we didn’t give ’em much.”
In the second period, Ward gave the Capitals their first three-goal lead of the season when he beat Theodore from the left circle after Perreault and Eric Fehr worked the puck out from along the boards. It was Ward’s fifth goal of the season.
“We have let teams linger around and as a result we’ve gotten no points out of those games,” Brouwer said. “So tonight it was very important for us to try and get momentum in our direction, get chances and ultimately score a couple more goals and put some distance between us and them.”
Ovechkin made it 4-0 at 3:49 of the third period when he scored off a faceoff. It was Ovechkin’s fourth goal of the season, but first at even strength. Jason Chimera and Mike Ribeiro had the assists.
Perreault, who returned to the lineup Saturday night after being a healthy scratch the past five games, banged in the rebound of a Jeff Schultz shot at 9:28 to close the scoring.
“(The Capitals) have skill and if you give them opportunities, they’re going to capitalize and that’s exactly what we did tonight.”
Theodore was pulled after Perreault’s goal, having stopped 16 of 21 shots.
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