Fans of high-scoring NHL games have probably been enjoying the intra-Southeast Division matchups between the Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals. The Caps have taken both wins in the series this season, though, and each time they’ve scored at least five goals to do it. In their first meeting at the Verizon Center almost a month ago, Washington put up five goals and won by a 5-0 margin. A few days later, they won again in the BB&T Center, though this time it was a 6-5 victory.
Those two wins actually sparked the Capitals to start playing better and winning games after being rather bad in the start of the season and occupying the Eastern Conference basement at times.
The Panthers team the Capitals will face tonight is going to look a lot different than it did a month ago, though, due to the injuries that have torn up Florida’s lineup. However, they’re coming off a win against another Southeast team, having defeated the Winnipeg Jets 4-1 on March 5. Jacob Markstrom minded the net and made 30 saves, Tomas Fleischmann put up two assists and the Panthers got goals from Tomas Kopecky, Shawn Matthias, Jonathan Huberdeau (on the penalty shot, pictured above because it’s a thing of beauty) and Mike Santorelli (his first of the season) for the win.
Huberdeau may have only played two games against the Capitals so far in his budding young career, but he’s productive against them: he has two goals to his name from those two games. Peter Mueller has also been a point-per-game guy versus Washington, putting up a goal and three assists in four games. On the other end of things, Alex Kovalev has played 65 games against the Capitals and built up 49 points in that time.
Look for Markstrom to be in net again tonight against perennial Caps starter Braden Holtby.
Both teams have 19 points in the standings so far, but now Florida is the one at the very bottom of the East with Washington just one place above them. Earning two points, therefore, is very important for the Panthers to climb out of last place.
The game starts at 7 p.m.