In a crucial game against a non-playoff team, the Washington Capitals staved off a late push from the Florida Panthers on Saturday night to escape Sunrise, FL with a 4-3 victory. Alexander Ovechkin recorded his second hat trick of the season as the Caps took a 4-0 lead inside the first two periods, only to allow three goals inside the final 14 minutes of regulation to the struggling Panthers.
Despite a shaky third frame, Braden Holtby earned his 17th win of the season in a 23-save effort. Mike Ribeiro also scored and Nicklas Backstrom earned three assists, while Marcus Johansson added two assists and Ribeiro and Mike Green also recorded helpers.
Capitals captain Ovechkin is peaking at perhaps the best possible time for his franchise as it attempts to slip into a playoff berth. His trio of goals has vaulted him into third in the NHL in goals, with 23, and more importantly has powered Washington’s offense over its past 13 games, with 14 goals in that span. [Read more...]