Ovechkin, Caps welcome Panthers

(SportsNetwork.com) – Anybody who was worried Alex Ovechkin’s offensive game
would suffer under Barry Trotz can rest easy for now.

Ovechkin will try to score for a fourth consecutive game Saturday when his
Washington Capitals welcome the Florida Panthers to Verizon Center.

The defensive-minded Trotz is in his first season behind the Washington bench,
and there was some concern as to how his style would mesh with Ovechkin, who
has won four Rocket Richard Trophies as the league’s top goal-scorer.

So far, Ovechkin’s offensive game hasn’t suffered in the least. The three-time
Hart Trophy winner has four goals in four games under Trotz and was only kept
off the scoresheet in Washington’s season-opening loss against Montreal. The
29-year-old Russian has torched Florida for 31 goals and 64 points in 49 games
during his standout career.

Ovechkin kicked off the scoring just 34 seconds into Thursday’s 6-2 rout of
the visiting New Jersey Devils. The score was tied at 2-2 after one period,
but Washington eventually turned the tide in its favor. Marcus Johansson broke
the tie in the second period and the Capitals scored three times in a span of
7:59 in the third.

Braden Holtby made 26 saves for Washington, which has earned at least a point
in each of its first four games (2-0-2). Trotz credited his goaltender for
keeping the Caps in the game early before Washington’s offense came alive in
the second half of the tilt.

“Braden Holtby was really good in the first. He made some big saves at key
times,” said Trotz. “When the game was 2-2, he made a couple of big saves.
When we went up 3-2, he made a big save. That’s what good goaltenders do; they
give you the timely saves and he did tonight.”

Holtby is expected to start again tonight. He is 6-0-0 with a 2.69 goals
against average in six career games against the Panthers.

Washington went 2-0-1 against Florida last season and has won nine of the past
10 meetings in this series. The Panthers have dropped eight straight and 11 of
their last 12 tilts in D.C.

The Panthers, however, hope to build off their first win of the season when
they visit the Caps. Florida was in action Friday night in Buffalo and rode
goaltender Roberto Luongo to a 1-0 victory.

Luongo made 26 saves for the shutout, while Sean Bergenheim scored the only
goal of the game early in the second period to help Florida improve to 1-2-1
on the young season.

The only goal came 3:01 into the second period, as Brad Boyes worked the puck
loose along the left boards and it came out to the circle, where Bergenheim
quickly wristed it in for his first of the season.

“Most of my goals come in front of the net or from quick shots,” said
Bergenheim. “It’s always nice when it goes in and this was a nice first one to
start the season.”

Florida did lose center Dave Bolland to a lower-body injury on Friday and he
is questionable for tonight’s game.

Al Montoya will get his first start of the season tonight, giving Luongo the
night off. Montoya did see action on Oct. 11 against New Jersey when he
relieved Luongo during a 5-1 rout. Montoya stopped all 10 shots he faced
versus the Devils, but the veteran backup is 0-1-0 with a 3.87 goals against
average in two career outings against Washington.

The Panthers are playing the second part of a four-game road trip tonight and
will complete the trek with stops in Colorado and Arizona.