Highlights: Capitals 3, Panthers 2
WASHINGTON - All things considered, the Capitals earned that extra hour of sleep Saturday night.
Playing without Alex Ovechkin for the second straight night and coming off a physically draining 7-0 drubbing over the Flyers on Friday, the Capitals overcame a late power-play goal by the Florida Panthers to pull out a 3-2 shootout victory in front of a full house at VerizonCenter Saturday night.
The Caps have now outscored their opponents 10-2 with Ovechkin sidelined with an upper body injury.
“You’re still patching the dike in a sense,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “You don’t want to miss anybody in your lineup, let alone your star. But it proves you’re still a solid hockey team and you can do a lot of good things.”
Nicklas Backstrom scored once in regulation and his shootout goal against Scott Clemmensen proved to be the game-winner as the Caps evened their record at 7-7-0.
The Caps were outshot 33-23 and needed a strong night by goaltender Michal Neuvirth to pull out the win.
“Tonight was an ugly one,” said Backstrom, who has three goals, along with a shootout winner, in his last two games. “Neuvy played great and kept us in the game.”
The Capitals got a scare when Marcus Johansson took a high stick to the face in the third period, but he returned for the overtime period.
The Caps appeared to be headed toward a regulation victory, but a slashing penalty by Steve Oleksy led to a Tomas Fleischmann game-tying the score with 2:38 remaining in regulation.
Oleksy took a slash at Scottie Upshall in retaliation of a high hit.
“He caught me in the head pretty good and I wanted to let him know I wasn’t happy,” Oleksy said. “I have him a little tap on the knee pads and he sold it pretty good.
“It’s inexcusable. It’s a time of the game you can’t put yourself or your team in that position.”
Fleischmann’s 4-on-3 power-play goal snapped a string of 35 straight successful penalty kills.
“That’s a very undisciplined penalty,” Oates said. “We can’t have that. Stevie knows that, but you can’t lose your cool, you can’t. It puts us behind the 8-ball. Guys have to play more [shorthanded] minutes. It’s uncharacteristic of him and fortunately the shootout bailed him out.”
In the shootout, Mikhail Grabovski [fake slapper, backhand], Brooks Laich [fanned attempt that slid in for a goal] and Backstrom [snap shot] all scored on their attempts, while Neuvirth gloved Jonathan Huberdeau’s shot for the only save of the shootout.
John Carlson also scored his first goal of the season for the Caps, ripping a pass from Michale Latta past Scott Clemmensen’s blocker and breaking into a windmill celebration.
“Big one for him,” Oates said. “You could tell by his celebration how much it meant to him.”