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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, December 13th (All times Eastern)
Washington Capitals (17-12-2) at Florida Panthers (10-17-5), 7:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The streaking Washington Capitals will try to continue their dominance of the Florida Panthers when they stop in Sunrise for a clash at the BB&T Center.
The Capitals have won three straight heading into Friday's battle and hope to push that streak to four games with a ninth consecutive win in this series against Florida.
Washington is 8-0 versus the Panthers since Florida last won a game in this series on Feb. 1, 2012 at the BB&T Center. The Caps also have claimed three in a row and seven of the last 11 meetings in South Florida.
Alex Ovechkin exploded for four goals in Washington's most recent game, a thrilling 6-5 comeback win Tuesday against Tampa Bay that was eventually decided in a shootout.
Ovechkin's fourth marker of the night tied the game with 32.4 seconds remaining in regulation and placed his league-leading total at 26 goals this season.
Troy Brouwer posted the game-winner in the shootout for Washington, which trailed 3-0 in the first period of the home game against the Lightning. The Caps also were behind 5-4 in the closing minutes of regulation before Ovechkin sent the test to overtime.
Ovechkin's efforts, along with a one-goal, four-assist performance from Nicklas Backstrom, enabled the Capitals to notch their fifth win in six outings.
"We've been in this situation before," said Ovechkin. "I think we were down 3-1 versus Detroit (a 4-3 shootout win on Nov. 15) after the second period, and I'm sure everybody knows we have lots of time left and we just have to take one at a time. The second goal by Nicky was huge, and we just felt we can come back and we can win the game."
Philipp Grubauer aided Washington's cause by stopping 32-of-34 shots after relieving an ineffective Braden Holtby, who let up three Tampa Bay goals on just eight chances before being pulled just after the 11-minute mark.
Holtby expects to start on Friday after his brief appearance on Tuesday. He is 5-0 with a 2.40 goals against average in five career outings -- four starts -- against the Panthers.
Another win on Friday would allow Washington to tie its longest winning streak of the season. The Caps previously won four in a row from Nov. 1-7.
Washington is only 6-5-2 as the road team this season, and beginning with tonight's test, the Caps are set to play three of their next four games as the guest.
Florida, meanwhile, is capping a two-game homestand on Friday after beating Detroit for the second time in less than a week with Tuesday's home shootout win against the Red Wings.
Brad Boyes scored the game-winner in the shootout to lift the Panthers to a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings. It was the third victory in four games for Florida, which also notched a 2-1 regulation win in Detroit on Saturday.
Sean Bergenheim and Nick Bjugstad scored third-period goals to tie the game for the Panthers on Tuesday and Tim Thomas made 24 saves in the triumph.
"It's a good win. It's good to contribute, whichever way I can," Boyes said. "If shootout is the way to do it, I'm happy with that."
The Panthers are 6-7-3 as the host this season compared to a 4-10-2 mark on the road. Following tonight's home game, Florida will head out on a four-game swing, beginning with Sunday's tilt in Montreal.
12/13 10:52:38 ET
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