Caps visit Panthers aiming to extend road run

( – The Washington Capitals will take aim at a fourth
consecutive road victory when they visit the Florida Panthers for Tuesday’s
clash at BB&T Center.

The Capitals enter Tuesday on a 4-0-1 point streak, a stretch that began with
a perfect 3-0 road trip. Washington hopes to continue its winning ways on the
road tonight when it kicks off another three-game swing that begins a run of
six away games in seven outings.

Washington hopes to continue its dominance of the Panthers this evening. The
Capitals are 10-0-1 in the last 11 encounters in this series overall and
Florida has lost four of the last five meetings on home ice.

The Caps recently earned a split on a two-game homestand, dropping Thursday’s
overtime decision against Columbus before downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2
on Saturday behind the first career hat trick from Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom scored his sixth, seventh and eighth goals of the season to stake
Washington to a 3-0 lead against the Bolts. Tampa tallied twice in the final
five minutes of regulation to make it a one-goal game, but Eric Fehr sealed
the win for the Caps with an empty-netter at 19:21 of the third.

“It’s a great feeling. It doesn’t happen a lot that I score three goals in a
game,” said Backstrom. It was fun. The biggest thing is that we got two
points. That is what we needed.”

Braden Holtby stopped 26 shots for the win, while Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson
each supplied two assists for the Capitals.

Washington is holding onto the Metropolitan Division’s third automatic playoff
spot, but is only one point ahead of the New York Rangers for that
distinction. The Rangers play Tuesday night in Calgary.

Florida. which is tied with the Rangers for the last wild card berth in the
Eastern Conference, recently went 1-1-1 on a three-game road trip. The
Panthers are home for just one night before heading out for road dates in
Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The Panthers have alternated losses and wins since the start of December,
owning a 3-2-2 record this month.

After beating Detroit in a shootout on Friday, the Panthers were handed a 4-3
overtime setback in Buffalo to close their swing. Florida dug itself out of a
2-0 hole against the Sabres and grabbed a 3-2 lead when Jussi Jokinen scored
just 57 seconds into the third period.

However, Brian Gionta would even the score for Buffalo at 8:27 of the third
before Nikita Zadorov ended the contest just 29 seconds into the extra

Sean Bergenheim and Jimmy Hayes scored second-period goals for the Panthers.
Florida backup Al Montoya made 28 saves, but he failed to stop the only shot
he faced in OT.

“It seems like it’s common ground these last couple of games in that first
period we start digging ourselves a hole,” Montoya said.

Roberto Luongo expects to return to the starting role for the Panthers
tonight. He is 19-10-0 with a 2.29 goals against average in his career against

Holtby is sporting a perfect 6-0 record and a lifetime 2.69 GAA against