(Sports Network) - The lowly Washington Capitals will try to get something
going on Saturday, as they host the improving Florida Panthers in the opener
of a home-and-home series at the Verizon Center.
The Capitals are off to a dismal 2-8-1 start to the season and their five
points has the club sitting dead last in the NHL standings. It's the team's
fourth-worst start through 11 games and the last time Washington had less than
five points at this stage of a season was during an 1-10-0 start to the
Washington has lost three straight and is 1-5-0 in its last six games, but the
club hopes a return to home ice can help them get on track.
After a 5-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Thursday, the Capitals are 0-4-1 on the road
this season, but the team is 2-4-0 as the hosts.
Washington led the Penguins 1-0 after the first period, but it was all
downhill from there. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin each posted a goal and
two assists and Pittsburgh scored five times in the second period en route to
a 5-2 win.
It marked the third straight game that Washington scored the first goal and
still wound up on the losing end.
Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro each notched a goal and a helper for the
Capitals in the loss. Michal Neuvirth gave up two goals on 11 shots before
being pulled in the second period. Braden Holtby allowed three tallies on 17
shots in relief.
Washington allowed Pittsburgh to go 3-for-4 on the power play, marking the
fifth time in 11 games this season that the Caps have allowed more than one
power-power play goal.
"We had that early lead then we stopped playing," said Ovechkin. "You know, we
took a bunch of stupid penalties and they killed us with it."
The Capitals carry a three-game series' winning streak into Saturday's game
against Florida, but the Panthers enter this contest playing their best hockey
of the season.
Florida opened the campaign with a win over Carolina before losing its next
five games in regulation. Since that 0-5 stretch, however, the Panthers have
posted a point in four straight contests, going 3-0-1.
The Panthers are coming off Thursday's road win in Philadelphia. Jonathan
Huberdeau was credited with the winner in a shootout, as Florida downed the
The rookie Huberdeau opened the deciding stanza by scoring after fooling Ilya
Bryzgalov with several stick moves. Peter Mueller also tallied in Florida's
next chance, while Jose Theodore turned away Matt Read and Claude Giroux to
win the contest.
"I take pride in it," said Mueller of his mindset in the breakaway round.
"It's a time where you can steal a point right there."
Jack Skille and Stephen Weiss scored in regulation for the Panthers. Theodore
ended up with 30 saves as the visitors avenged a 7-1 home loss to the Flyers
on Jan. 26.
"It was a little bit of payback for last time. We did get outplayed pretty
badly," Theodore admitted.
Florida is 2-3-1 as the guest this season and is completing a four-game road
trip on Saturday. Next up for the Panthers is a four-game homestand that is
set to begin Tuesday against Washington in the finale of this home-and-home.
The Sports Network