Washington pushed its winning streak to five on Saturday night when it rebounded from a 2-1 third-period deficit to score three goals in less than five minutes in a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers. The Capitals have their first winning streak of five or more games in 2016-17 and their first since Feb. 4-11 of last season, when they pieced together their fifth winning streak of five or more games in 2015-16.
Florida had the best of the Caps in the first, and Washington yielded the game's first goal for just the second time in 11 games this season. The Caps trailed in the first period of a game for the first time all season.
The Capitals took control of the contest in the middle period, dominating in terms of territory and possession, drawing three penalties and rolling up an 18-4 lead in shots on goal and a 37-10 advantage in shot attempts. But with all that dominance, the Caps were only able to score once, because Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo was at the top of his game. The Caps and Cats were square at 1-1 heading to the third.
Florida took a 2-1 lead on Reilly Smith's impressive power-play rush goal at 2:53 of the third. Down a goal, the Caps kept doing what they had been doing and it paid off handsomely.
A lengthy offensive-zone shift culminated in the tying tally, Alex Ovechkin's deflection of Brooks Orpik's point shot. T.J. Oshie's second goal of the night and Lars Eller's second of the season followed, and three third-period goals in a span of five minutes gave the Caps the lead and ultimately, their fifth straight win.
Washington's offensive zone dominance and presence ultimately enabled it to wear down the Panthers and Luongo and win the game.
"I think we did a better job of managing the puck on some of our breakouts," says Caps coach Barry Trotz, "and then also getting through the neutral zone with a little bit of speed. I thought we were playing a little bit light early, and playing a little bit more of their game.
"We're a lot bigger than them, and I thought we started using our size, [had] more puck possession and size in the interior, and keeping things alive with our size. That being said, I thought we were a little heavier on the puck and therefore we had it a lot more and kept them in their end pretty well the whole second period."
Luongo, bidding for his first win in two weeks, was instead saddled with his fourth straight loss.
"He was outstanding," says Panther coach Gerard Gallant of his goaltender. "The first period, we played a great period on the road against a great team. Second period, he probably made five unbelievable saves to keep it close. And then obviously, they got a couple of goals there that we made some mistakes on."