SUNRISE (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Florida Panthers are probably going to have their hands full on Thursday night as they try to end a two-game losing streak.
The red-hot Washington Capitals are riding an eight-game point streak as they prepare to open a three-game road trip with a visit to the Panthers.
The Capitals improved to 7-0-1 over their last eight contests with a 3-2 shootout victory over Detroit on Tuesday and are 11-2-2 in their past 15 games – with all four setbacks coming by one goal.
Washington is off to the best 26-game start in franchise history and is getting contributions from throughout the lineup, with nine players scoring at least 13 points.
“I think when you go on these runs, you need everybody or you just need your top players to be the hottest guys in the league by far,” Capitals defenseman John Carlson said. “It’s been by committee this year, which is awesome.”
Florida had won five in a row before dropping consecutive 4-2 losses to New Jersey and Ottawa, allowing three unanswered third-period goals in Tuesday’s defeat to the Senators.
The teams met in Florida on Halloween and the Capitals prevailed on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s overtime tally.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, CSN Washington, FSN Florida
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (19-5-2): Goaltender Braden Holtby earned his league-best 17th victory this season Tuesday in his 200th game with Washington, but coach Barry Trotz said he’s undecided on who will get the start in the next two games versus Florida and Tampa Bay.
Philipp Grubauer got the nod in the earlier meeting with the Panthers and registered 27 saves in the 2-1 victory.
“I’m going to decide on the plane but they’re going to split,” Trotz said. “I just have to decide which way they’ll go. I have to look at the schedule. We’ll look at now until probably Christmas and see what’s the best plan for us.”
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (13-11-4): The news went from bad to worse for Florida forward Nick Bjugstad, who has missed the past five games due to an upper-body injury and has been ruled out indefinitely.
“It’s not short term,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant told reporters Wednesday. “He won’t be playing (Thursday) and he won’t be coming on the trip at first. I mean, I am hoping. But they haven’t told me a whole lot.”
Florida opens a four-game road trip at Boston on Saturday and the hope is that Bjugstad, who has seven goals in 23 games, will be available toward the end of the East Coast trek.
- Holtby is 7-0-1 with a 2.48 goals-against average versus Florida.
- The Panthers are 1-for-16 on the power play over the past seven games.
- Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has 32 goals and 69 points in 53 games against the Panthers.
The Panthers face the Washington Capitals on Thursday, December 10th at 7:30 p.m. You can hear every game on Sports Radio 560 WQAM, the radio home of the Florida Panthers.
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