January 13 vs. Florida Panthers at
Time: 7:30 pm TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 820AM, 1500AM and XM Pre-Game: Capitals Report/Pre-Cap Podcast at 2 p.m. on www.washingtoncaps.com
Washington Capitals (27-12-6)
Florida Panthers (18-20-7)
Washington heads to South Florida to face the Panthers for the fourth time this season and the second time in Sunrise. The Caps will be playing the rubber match of a three-game road trip and the second half of back-to-back contests.
After opening the trip with an 8-1 thumping of the Thrashers in Atlanta on Saturday, the Caps absorbed a 7-4 setback at the hands of the Lightning in Tampa Bay on Tuesday, ending a 12-game Washington winning streak in the series between the two Southeast Division opponents.
The Capitals were victimized for four first-period goals in the loss at Tampa Bay, and the beleaguered road penalty killing unit was abused for four power play goals, the first time in more than seven years that the Lightning had tallied as many as four power play goals in a game.
The Caps have allowed just nine power play goals in 20 home games, but they’ve been blistered for 27 power play goals in 25 road games. Washington’s 73% road penalty kill success rate is second from the bottom in the NHL.
Washington has won each of the first three meetings between the Caps and Cats this season, outscoring Florida by a combined 17-7 in the process. The Capitals are 9-2 against Southeast Division foes in 2009-10, including 6-1 on the road.
The Caps have scored those 17 goals in three games against the Panthers without any output from Alex Ovechkin, who has missed all three previous meetings with the Cats. Ovechkin has 26 points (10 goals and 16 assists) in just 16 games since returning from a league-issued two-game suspension at the beginning of December.
The Capitals average 32.8 shots on goal per game, fourth most in the NHL. The Panthers allow an average of 34.3 shots on goal per game, the highest figure in the league.
Thus far this season, the Capitals are 2-2-2 in the second game of back-to-back contests. Washington is 1-0-1 in the second game after it has lost the first of the two contests on consecutive nights.
Washington has had at least one power play goal in four of its five games in the 2010 portion of the 2009-10 season. The Capitals are 6-for-19 (31.6%) with the extra man during that span.
Florida has been idle since Saturday when it salvaged a three-game Canadian road trip with a 3-0 whitewash of the Senators in Ottawa. That victory followed earlier losses in Toronto and Montreal, respectively, on the trip.
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun – who has faced the second-most shots in the NHL this season – made 24 saves against the Senators to record his fourth shutout of the season and the 35th of his NHL career. Vokoun is tied for fourth in the league in shutouts in 2009-10.
Since a 4-0-1 run in mid-December, the Panthers are 3-6 in their last nine games. Florida has fallen to fourth place in the Southeast Division standings and it is now 13th in the Eastern Conference standings as it makes a bid for its first playoff berth in a decade. No other NHL team has suffered through a longer postseason drought.
The Panthers have been struggling on the power play of late, scoring just two extra-man tallies in their last 20 tries (10%) over the team’s last seven games. The Lightning had managed just seven power play goals in 58 extra-man opportunities (12.1%) in its previous 16 games before netting four against Washington on Tuesday.
The Cats have been stellar on the penalty kill recently. Florida has successfully snuffed 50 of their foes’ last 56 (89.3%) power play chances in a span stretching back over the last 17 games. Only once in those 17 games have the Panthers permitted more than one power play goal in a game.