Ovechkin beats Tim Thomas for goal vs. Panthers
Instant analysis of the Capitals’ ugly but effective 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers Thursday night at BB&TCenter”
How it happened: The Capitals blew a pair of two-goal leads but pulled out their third straight win and first following the Olympic break, when Alex Ovechkin rifled his 41st goal of the season past Tim Thomas with 4:17 remaining in regulation.
What it means: Thanks to Philadelphia’s 7-3 loss to San Jose, the Caps moved within one point of the Flyers. The Caps [28-23-9, 65 points] and Flyers [30-24-6, 66 points] each have played 60 games. They face each other twice more this season in a crucial back-to-back set on Sunday in Washington and Wednesday in Philly.
Injury scare: Mikhail Grabovski, who missed eight straight games before the Olympic break with what is believed to be a high ankle sprain, aggravated the injury in the first period and did not return.
That’s more Laich it: Brooks Laich had a monster game with one goal and two assists while playing on a top line with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Laich assisted on a first-period power-play goal by Troy Brouwer, cranked a one-timer past Thomas off a perfect feed from Ovechkin and set up Ovechkin for his game-winner. Laich had just five goals and four assists in his first 44 games. Nicklas Backstrom also picked up one goal and two assists to give the top line nine points.
Brouwer power: Troy Brouwer netted a pair of goals and now has six in his last five games.
Mojo gets a breather: After spending 20 hours traveling from Sochi to Stockholm to Florida, Capitals left wing Marcus Johansson skated with the team in the morning but decided not to play in the game. He was replaced in the lineup by Bears call-up Nicolas Deschamps, who played on a fourth line with Jay Beagle and Tom Wilson. Deschamps became the eighth player this season to make his NHL debut with the Caps. He was a minus-1 and recorded no shots in 7:38 of ice time.
What’s next: The Caps are expected to practice in Florida, then head to Boston for Saturday’s 1 p.m. clash with the Bruins, who are coming off an overtime loss in Buffalo on Tuesday night.