Capitals 3, Panthers 2 (SO)

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- The Capitals are finding ways to win games without their leading scorer.
With Alex Ovechkin sidelined a second straight game with an upper-body injury, the Capitals received goals from Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson in regulation and a game-winner from Backstrom in the shootout to pull out a 3-2 shootout win and hand the visiting Florida Panthers their fifth straight loss.
The Capitals outscored their opponents 10-2 in the two games Ovechkin missed.
The Panthers showed some fight in the loss, tying the score with 2:38 remaining in regulation when Tomas Fleischmann scored a 4-on-3 power-play goal.
With Washington defenseman Steve Oleksy in the box for slashing, Jonathan Huberdeau wheeled around the back of the Capitals net and found Fleishmann in front for a snap shot that tied the score at 2 and sent the game into overtime.
In the shootout, Mikhail Grabovski, Brooks Laich and Backstrom all scored on their attempts against Florida goaltender Scott Clemmensen, while Aleksander Barkov scored on Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth before Neuvirth made a glove stop on Huberdeau.
Coming off Friday night's fight-filled 7-0 road win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Capitals were hoping to draw energy from their home crowd against the Panthers, who were outplayed in a 4-0 home loss to the St. Louis Blues the night before.
Florida coach Kevin Dineen benched three regulars -- forwards Kris Versteeg and Sean Bergenheim and defenseman Matt Gilroy -- in an attempt to snap a four-game losing streak.
The Capitals opened the scoring 16:41 into the first period when Backstrom threaded a shot between the pads of Clemmensen, who was making just his second start of the season.
The goal was Backstrom's third in two nights and gave him the team lead over Ovechkin with 16 points.
The Panthers entered the game 1-7-2 when allowing the first goal, but managed to tie the score 8:20 into the second period when Jesse Winchester beat Neuvirth, who was making his third start of the season.
Washington restored its one-goal lead just 36 seconds later when Carlson scored his first goal of the season and 100th point of his career, firing a pass from Michael Latta high over Clemmensen's glove hand for a 2-1 lead.
The Capitals had two chances to build their lead on the power play, but were held off the board by Clemmensen.
The game got heated in the third period when Krys Barch was called for charging after ramming Washington defenseman Alex Urbom into the boards. Barch's tooth was jarred loose on the hit and replays showed him pulling it out on the Panthers bench and tossing it into the crowd.
NOTES: The Capitals had a 17-4-1 record in their previous 22 games against the Panthers and had won seven straight meetings between the teams. ... Washington's third line of Mikhail Grabovski, Jason Chimera and Joel Ward entered the game with nine goals and 11 assists in its previous four games. ... Upset with his team's effort in Friday night's 4-0 home loss to the St. Louis Blues, Panthers coach Kevin Dineen made Kris Versteeg (2 goals, minus-7), Sean Bergenheim (1 assist, minus-2) and D Matt Gilroy (1 goal, minus-2) healthy scratches. He replaced them with forward Scottie Upshall, Krys Barch and Ryan Whitney. ... The Capitals were without leading goal-scorer Alex Ovechkin for the second straight night because of an upper body injury. The Caps are hoping Ovechkin will be able to return to the lineup when they continue their three-game homestand on Tuesday night against the New York Islanders. ... The Panthers return home to face the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, then hit the road for eight of the next nine games.

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