Capitals score three goals in shootout to edge Panthers
Alex Ovechkin played his weakest game of the season, Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.
No matter. He still helped his team beat the Florida Panthers.
The Capitals scored on all three shots in the shootout, including the clincher by Ovechkin, and Justin Peters made 20 saves to lift Washington over the Panthers 2-1 on Saturday night.
"That’s nice run support," Peters cracked following his first start.
Jason Chimera scored his first goal of the young season for the Capitals (3-0-2), who improved to 10-0-1 in their last 11 meetings against their former division rival.
Brad Boyes’ power play goal for Florida (1-3-1) tied the game early in the third period.
Each team scored on its first shootout attempt, and Nicklas Backstrom then put the Capitals ahead 2-1. After Peters stopped Jussi Jokinen, the Capitals turned to Ovechkin.
The NHL leader in goals last season struggled in shootouts, finishing 2 of 16. He missed his only prior chance this season.
Trotz passed on using Ovechkin in Tuesday’s shootout loss to San Jose, and didn’t exactly pick him this time, either.
"I honestly didn’t make the call on third shooter," Trotz said. "I went over to (assistant Blaine Forsythe) and said, `You’ve got to make the call on the third shooter.’
"I’m not taking any credit for that."
When Ovechkin later noted to his coach about being skipped previously, Trotz told his star, `You’re right and I didn’t put you in today.’
"(Ovechkin) showed some patience and he got the goalie to bite," Trotz said. "Once the goalie was down, you know it’s going upstairs."
One of the NHL leaders this season with five goals, Ovechkin failed to record a point for the first time in four games.
"That was probably (Ovechkin’s) weakest game so far this year for him because he’s been pretty outstanding," Trotz said.
The Panthers have scored five goals in five games. They did earn another road point following Friday’s win at Buffalo.
"Definitely a big point tonight," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "We didn’t have a great first two periods.
"In the third, I thought we picked it up and we scored a power play goal."
In a matchup of backups, Peters outdueled Al Montoya. Washington outshot Florida 28-21 overall.
The Capitals had averaged five goals in their previous three games, including a 6-2 victory over New Jersey on Thursday. They didn’t keep up that potent pace, but their defensive effort ensured another scuffling outing for the Panthers.
Florida was 1 for 21 on the power play before Boyes scored.
Washington hasn’t lost at home to Florida since Dec. 9, 2010.
Situated in the left corner below the goal line, Eric Fehr spotted Chimera open just outside the far post. After receiving the pinpoint centering pass, Chimera faked Montoya out of position before backhanding the puck into the open net for a 1-0 lead 17:12 in.
Neither team scored in the second period, but Brooks Laich’s tip-in for Washington was disallowed because of a high-sticking call.
Laich exited the game following a third period collision and didn’t return. Trotz said Laich sustained an upper-body injury, but offered no additional information.
Washington held Florida without a shot on its first three power plays, but the Panthers broke that cycle early in the third period.
Peters stopped Sean Bergenheim’s close-range attempt, but Boyes put in the rebound 4:27 into the third to make it 1-1.
Peters made his first start since Jan. 19 when he was with Carolina.
NOTES: Dylan Olsen earned an assist on Boyes’ goal. … Panthers D Willie Mitchell played in his 800th NHL game. … Capitals rookie forward Andre Burakovsky failed to record a point for the first time in five NHL games. … Florida concludes its four-game trip with two games out West, starting Tuesday at Colorado. … Backstrom failed to get his 500th career point in his 500th NHL game.