SUNRISE (SportsDirect Inc.) — The Washington Capitals hope to break out offensively for the first time this season when they pay a visit to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
The Capitals, who led the Eastern Conference in scoring in 2015-16, have put up seven goals in the first three games and posted their initial two power-play tallies in a 3-0 triumph against Colorado on Tuesday.
“The power play wasn’t bad, but we talked about needing a little bit more execution and a little bit more finish,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told reporters. “They were sharper, and then they got rewarded.”
Three-time Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin notched his first goal Tuesday and has tallied 33 times in 54 career games against Florida, which has points in its first three contests of 2016-17.
The Panthers are without key forwards Jonathan Huberdeau (Achilles) and Nick Bjugstad (hand) long term, but were within six seconds of being 3-0-0 before losing 4-3 in a shootout at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t close it out,” Florida goaltender James Reimer told reporters. “But I thought we played hard and capitalized when we needed to. So, valuable point and go from there.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, CSN Mid-Atlantic (Washington), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE CAPITALS (2-0-1): Ovechkin hasn’t been devoid of chances, registering 13 shots to tie defenseman John Carlson for the team lead, but his line with Evgeny Kuznetsov (one assist) and T.J. Oshie (two goals) finally got on the board Tuesday. Forwards Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson each boasts three assists to top the team in scoring and right wing Brett Connolly had four shots in his Washington debut Tuesday. Braden Holtby, who stopped 49-of-52 shots in the first two games, should be back in net after backup Philipp Grubauer blanked the Avalanche.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (2-0-1): Veteran Jaromir Jagr is still looking for goal No. 750 after coming up empty in the first three games despite recording nine shots on goal while playing on a productive top line. Jonathan Marchessault (two goals, two assists) has skated alongside Aleksander Barkov (two, one) and Jagr (one assist) to open the season with Huberdeau out indefinitely. Talented rookie Mike Matheson notched his first career goal Tuesday to put Florida ahead late and fellow blue liner Aaron Ekblad has yet to post a point, but shares the team lead with 10 shots.
1. Florida G Roberto Luongo, who was rested Tuesday, is expected back in net after stopping 44 of 46 shots in the first two games.
2. Three of the past six meetings have gone past regulation with Washington winning two.
3. The Panthers are 0-for-8 with the man advantage in the first three games while killing off all seven power plays against them.
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