The Washington Capitals continue to earn points during the early stages of a road-heavy stretch and appear to have a promising chance to extend two impressive streaks Thursday night.
The surging Capitals carry a 14-game point streak against the Florida Panthers and seven-game road run in the series into this matchup.
Washington (19-5-2) defeated Detroit 3-2 in a shootout at home Tuesday to give it a 7-0-1 mark in its last eight games, avoiding its first consecutive losses of the season in the process. Alex Ovechkin ended a three-game goal drought by tying it with 9:09 left in regulation and T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in the tiebreaker.
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“You talk about trying to learn killer instinct. I think we've learned that. It shows in our record when down after two periods,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I don't think there's a better team that has come back in as many games as we have to get wins. There's some growth in the group for sure.”
That matchup with the Red Wings was among just five home games Washington will play in a 19-game span Nov. 28-Jan. 9. Detroit, which played three straight on the road before Tuesday, is opening another three-game trip.
The Capitals, 4-0-1 in their last five on the road, have gone 5-0-2 in the past seven at Sunrise and 12-0-2 in the last 14 overall matchups.
Those games haven't been nearly as lopsided as the final results would indicate, however. Each of the last eight meetings have been decided by one goal, and four of them went to a shootout.
The clubs played beyond regulation for the fifth time in that span in Washington's 2-1 overtime road victory Oct. 31. Jay Beagle scored the tying goal in the third period and Kuznetsov had the winner.
Capitals backup Philipp Grubauer stopped 26 shots in that contest, but workhorse No. 1 Braden Holtby is expected to make his ninth straight start Thursday. Holtby, 9-0-1 with a 1.87 goals-against average in his last 10 starts and 11-1-1 with a 1.74 mark in the past 13, is 7-0-1 with a 2.48 GAA in eight all-time matchups with Florida.
In contrast, the Panthers' Roberto Luongo has struggled to keep the puck out of the net in his past two starts after a strong stretch that preceded it. He went 4-1-0 with a 1.42 GAA in five starts before giving up seven goals in back-to-back losses.
Luongo yielded two of Ottawa's three third-period goals in a 4-2 loss Tuesday.
The Panthers also allowed the Senators score twice on the power play after killing off all 20 penalties in their previous seven games. Washington has gone 8 for 21 with the man advantage in its last six.
“It was just little breakdowns. I thought we worked hard for most of the game but it was little things, especially on special teams,” forward Logan Shaw said. “We've know we've got to be better.”
Luongo was also on the bench for the season's first matchup with Washington. He's 15-1-0 with a 2.22 GAA in his last 17 meetings.