Pre-game primer: What will Ovi do for encore?

Pre-game primer: What will Ovi do for encore?
December 13, 2013, 5:45 pm
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(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

News and notes as the Capitals [17-12-2] visit the Florida Panthers [10-17-5] tonight at BB&T Arena in Sunrise, Fla. [7:30 p.m., CSN]:

Time for an encore: Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin netted his 13th career hat trick on Tuesday in the Caps’ wild 6-5 shootout win over Tampa. How has he done in the games that follow outbursts of three or more goals? In the 12 games that followed his previous hat tricks Ovechkin has scored a total of nine goals. Three times he followed with two-goal games, three times with one goal and six times he was shut out. “I don’t now,” Ovechkin said with a grin. “Maybe I score five next game. And then six, and then seven.”

Chasing 400: Ovechkin is three goals shy of becoming just the second Capitals player to score 400 goals. Only Peter Bondra [472] has scored more. Ovechkin is also two assists way from catching Dale Hunter [375] for third on the Caps’ all-time list, and 19 points away from catching Mike Gartner for second all-time in points [789].

Got their number: The Caps have won eight straight games against the Panthers and are 18-4-1 against them in their last 23 meetings.

Who’s in goal: The Caps are going with the hot hand, giving rookie Philipp Grubauer {2-0-0, 1.36, .959] his second start of the week and third start of his career. With Tim Thomas sidelined by an apparent groin injury, the Panthers will go with Scott Clemmensen [0-2-1, 3.89, .857] who has started just once in the Panthers’ last 18 games.  

Bobblebeezer: Before the game the Panthers will be handing out John Vanbiesbrouck bobbleheads in honor of the goalie who played in Florida from 1993-98 and led them to the 1996 Stanley Cup Final. Later this season the Panthers will honor former stars Pavel Bure, Scott Mellanby and Brian Skrudland, along with general manager Dale Tallon.

[RELATED: Oates to Capitals: Don't take Panthers lightly]

Trending: The Caps have won three in a row and five of their last six games and are coming off a wild 6-5 come-from-behind shootout win over Tampa on Tuesday. The Panthers have won three of their last four, including a 3-2 shootout win over Detroit on Tuesday.

Top Cats: The Panthers are led by left wing Scottie Upshall [6-11-17], former Capitals left wing Tomas Fleischmann [4-12-16] and defenseman Brian Campbell [4-11-15].   

How they fare: The Caps are 10-0-1 when leading after two periods. The Panthers are 4-0-0 when leading after two, which means they’ve only held a lead after 40 minutes in four of their first 32 games.

Not so special: The Panthers are ranked 29th in the NHL on the power play and 28th on the penalty kill. The Caps rank third on the PP and 14th on the PK.

Shootout snipers: Eric Fehr is now a perfect 3-for-3 in shootouts this season. Troy Brouwer is 2-for-3, Nick Backstrom is 4-for-7 and Ovechkin is 2-for-8. For the Panthers, Brad Boyes is 4-for-5, Fleischmann is 1-for-1, Aleksander Barkov is 2-for-5, and Jonathan Huberdeau 2-for-7.

Look ahead: The Caps will practice at Kettler at 11 a.m. on Saturday, then face the Flyers on Sunday at Verizon Center [3 p.m.] and Tuesday in Philadelphia [7:30 p.m.]