WASHINGTON – The Florida Panthers’ luck finally changed for the better.
Florida was credited with a pair of goals that deflected in off Washington players and the Panthers earned their second straight victory by beating the Washington Capitals 5-3 on Tuesday night.
Radek Dvorak, Ville Peltonen and Gregory Campbell all had a goal and an assist each in the win.
The Panthers were ranked 13th in the Eastern Conference in goals coming in and then got help from those fortunate bounces. They took the lead for good with three second-period goals, two of which went in after hitting Capitals players.
“We got some bounces around the net that we haven’t been getting,” Florida coach Peter DeBoer said. “Our guys worked hard for it.”
Ville Peltonen had tied it at 6:19, and Florida went ahead 2-1 when Washington’s David Steckel’s pass hit teammate Karl Alzner’s skate in front and went between Jose Theodore’s pads for a power-play goal. No Panthers player was within about 25 feet of either Steckel or Alzner, and Jay Bouwmeester was credited with the goal.
Florida made it 3-1 when Bryan McCabe’s shot deflected off Washington’s Boyd Gordon and Shaone Morrisonn and in with 7:51 left in the second period for another power-play goal.
That made up for the unlucky bounce in the first period when Nicklas Backstrom’s cross-ice pass hit Bouwmeester’s skate and flew past goalie Craig Anderson to give Washington an early 1-0 lead. Florida took command in the second period.
“We put in a lot of work tonight and had success,” Bouwmeester said. “They’ve got some guys with a lot of skill.”
Washington coach Bruce Boudreau wasn’t happy with his team’s effort as the Capitals seemed flat until they scored a pair of late goals when Florida was up 4-1.
“It was the least energy we’ve had all year, and I talked about us having a lot of energy tonight,” Boudreau said. “We didn’t play with a lot of life, and everybody’s accountable.”
Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist for Washington, but he agreed with his coach.
“We did a terrible job,” Backstrom said. “We have to be ready to play from the beginning, and that’s what we didn’t do.”
Dvorak added an insurance goal early in the third to make it 4-1. Washington rallied with late goals from Viktor Kozlov and Tomas Fleischmann, but Campbell’s empty-netter with one minute left clinched it. Anderson, who has the best save percentage in the NHL, stopped 23 shots and earned his second straight win.
Washington lost in regulation at home for the first time this season (9-1-1). The Capitals were 15-0-1 in their past 16 games in the nation’s capital. San Jose is the only remaining NHL team that is perfect at home this season in regulation.
The Capitals are still struggling with injuries as seven players from their opening night roster sat out.
Florida, which entered with the league’s 27th ranked power-play unit, went 2-for-4.
Notes: Sami Lepisto got an assist on Backstrom’s goal, his third point in four games this season. … Washington LW Alex Ovechkin (one assist) was chosen as the NHL’s first star of the month for November – the fourth Capitals player to earn that honour this season. … The Capitals recalled LW Graham Mink from Hershey (AHL). … Dvorak is the only current Panthers player who was on the Florida club that reached the Stanley Cup finals in 1998.