The Capitals (20-20-7) fell 7-3 to the Panthers last Saturday, tying their season high for goals allowed.
“We just didn’t play well tonight, obviously,” Washington goalie Olaf Kolzig said. “They responded well (to a loss in their previous game) and we weren’t prepared for it. If you’re not ready to play or an aspect of your game is a little bit off it’s apparent in this league. We just weren’t on track.”
After losing the first three games of a four-game road trip—giving up 17 goals in the process—Washington got back on track Thursday with a 5-2 win over Carolina. The victory snapped a six-game road losing streak and prevented the Caps from dropping seven straight on the road for the first time since losing that many from Feb. 28-March 27, 2004.
All-Star Alexander Ovechkin, battling for the NHL scoring lead, extended his point streak to eight games with an empty net goal late in the third period.
“It reassures our group that they can play against the reigning Stanley Cup champions,” Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. “You give good effort, you play well and we can win these games.”
While the Capitals are looking to exact revenge for last week’s loss, the last-place Panthers (17-22-10) are hoping to close the gap between them and the Caps in the Southeast Division. Florida trails Washington by three points.
Florida hopes for repeat performances from Stephen Weiss and Jay Bouwmeester in the matchup with the Caps. Weiss recorded his first career hat trick against Washington last week, while Bouwmeester added two goals and two assists.
“It feels good. I was wondering if I was ever going to get one of those (hat tricks),” said Weiss, who was playing his 214th game in his fourth NHL season. “It was one of those nights where the bounces went my way. It was a big win and we had a solid game.”
Since that victory, though, the Panthers have suffered consecutive 3-2 losses. They fell to Toronto on Thursday for their sixth defeat in eight games.
“We had chances before the third to make it a different game,” Florida’s Ville Peltonen said. “We came all out in the third but it wasn’t enough today. Close, but not enough.”
The Capitals lead the season series 2-1. Florida went 7-0-1 against Washington last season.