Capitals roll over Panthers for 9th straight win
But the win was a costly one, losing defenceman Mike Green to injury
Mike Knuble and Nicklas Backstrom fuelled Washington's high-powered offence with three points apiece, and the Capitals pulled away to their ninth consecutive victory, 4-1 over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.
Knuble had two goals and an assist, and Backstrom had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who took a 2-1 lead into the third period before taking control.
"Alex [Ovechkin] is the best player in the world and Nick's climbing the ladder. I've just been able to find a way to play with these guys and complement them," Knuble said. "We're clicking."
The winning streak is the second-longest in franchise history, just one short of the 10 straight won by the 1983-84 team. Washington has won 12 times in January to tie the team record for a month, set in December 1984.
The Capitals, who lead the NHL in goals, have outscored the opposition 44-19 during their nine-game run. Ovechkin contributed an assist, and Alexander Semin extended his points streak to eight games with an assist.
Michal Neuvirth had 35 saves for Washington, 20-3-3 at home.
Jeff Schultz made it 3-1 with 15:14 left by slamming a slapshot past screened goalie Tomas Vokoun. Knuble provided a three-goal cushion with 12:35 remaining.
"It's fun, but it's also a very businesslike atmosphere in here," Schultz said. "This is kind of the way we expect ourselves to play each night; we'll try to keep it rolling as long as we can."
It might have been a costly win for the Capitals, who lost standout defenceman Mike Green to a left knee injury late in the second period. Green had to be helped off the ice after colliding with Dmitry Kulikov during the pursuit of a loose puck.
Washington needed less than eight minutes to get its offence cranking. With Florida's Bryan McCade in the penalty box, Backstrom got his 22nd goal by stuffing a rebound past Vokoun for a 1-0 lead.
But Florida tied it at 4:22 of the second period when Steven Weiss scored his team-high 20th goal of the season off a pass from Cory Stillman.
"They have such gifted goal scorers that it doesn't take them much time to get a shot off and score," winger Cory Stillman said.
Washington moved back in front just 25 seconds later. Ovechkin took a shot that tipped off the skate of Knuble, who was credited with a goal when the puck slid under Vokoun's pads.