5 things to know for Caps-Panthers: The Brett Connolly reunion

J.J. Regan

The Capitals (11-2-3) will take their four-game win streak and nine-game point streak with them to Florida to take on the Panthers (7-3-4). You can catch all the action on NBC Sports Washington with Caps FaceOff Live kicking things off at 6 p.m. before Caps Pregame Live begins at 6:30 p.m. to bring you up to the 7 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington afterward for Caps Postgame Live.

Here are five things to know for Thursday's game.

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Nic Dowd is available, but the lines are the same

Nic Dowd missed the last two games with a lower-body injury. Todd Reirden said after practice Wednesday that he will travel with the team, but that he will be a game-time decision.

Based on Thursday's morning skate, it looks like he will not be back in against Florida:

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Carl Hagelin - Lars Eller - Garnet Hathaway
Brendan Leipsic - Chandler Stephenson - Travis Boyd


Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Radko Gudas
Jonas Siegenthaler - Nick Jensen

This likely has less to do with Dowd's availability -- he looked fine the last few days at practice and said in the locker room he felt ready to return -- and more to do with how well the fourth line is clicking at the moment. Plus, the pending return of Richard Panik, who has also been practicing, will mean someone has to be sent down to Hershey. That choice will likely come down to Stephenson or Boyd, so it is better to keep them in the lineup now and try to figure it out based on how both are playing.

Reirden also said Wednesday that Holtby will start.

The new-look Panthers

Florida had one of the busiest offseasons in the NHL. A team that already had a loaded roster added Sergei Bobrovsky in net and head coach Joel Quenneville behind the bench. After a slow start to the season, the Panthers look like they are finally starting to hit their stride with five wins in their last seven games.

The Brett Connolly reunion

One other offseason addition for Florida was former Cap Brett Connolly. Connolly has been playing on the second line for the Panthers and has five goals and five assists in 14 games.

"I certainly enjoyed playing with him," said Eller who was a frequent linemate of Connolly. "We each had assets that complimented each other well. He's a gifted goal scorer and I think he really established himself as that more and more the last years of his time here."

When Eller scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in 2018, the initial shot came from Connolly. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped it, but the puck squited out just behind him allowing Eller the chance to hit it into the empty net.

Goals galore

This game features two of the best offenses in the league. Washington ranks second in the NHL with 3.94 goals per game while the Panthers sit fifth at 3.57. Leading the way for the Panthers is Jonathan Huberdeau who has nine goals and nine assists. Just behind him with 17 points is the always dangerous Aleksander Barkov, who has two goals and 15 assists.

The Bob

This will be Washington's first matchup against Bobrovsky since he left the Columbus Blue Jackets. The start of the season has not been a great one for "The Bob" as he has a .882 save percentage and 3.36 GAA, but he still boasts a 6-2-3 record.

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5 things to know for Caps-Panthers: The Brett Connolly reunion originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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