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Capitals put Winter Classic in past, focus on Panthers

by Evan Sporer /

FLORIDA (17-10-9) AT WASHINGTON (19-11-7)


Season series: The former Southeast Division rivals split their first two meetings this season, with the home team winning each game 2-1 in a shootout. On Dec. 16 it took the Florida Panthers 20 rounds to defeat the Washington Capitals, setting a record for the longest shootout in NHL history.

Panthers team scope: Florida began 2015 in the win column, defeating the Buffalo Sabres 2-0 to start a season-high six-game road trip. With the shutout, the 68th of his career, Roberto Luongo passed Roy Worters for 13th place on the NHL all-time list. Brad Boyes and Nick Bjugstad scored for the Panthers in the win. Tomas Fleischmann and Erik Gudbranson sat out Panthers practice Saturday and are doubtful for Sunday, according to the Miami Herald.

Capitals team scope: At Nationals Park the Capitals opened the 2015 portion of the NHL season by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Thursday at the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Troy Brouwer's power-play goal with 13 seconds remaining in regulation broke a 2-2 tie. At practice Saturday, rookie Andre Burakovsky, a healthy scratch the past two games, skated on the top line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. Washington has won nine of its past 13 games (9-1-3), averaging more three goals per game in that stretch. "Florida is playing good hockey," Brouwer said Saturday, according to the Capitals website. "They beat us last time and I think they are only two or three points behind us for a wild card. That makes this a very important game. We can't be distracted by our families still in town or the lingering effects of the Winter Classic. We've got to push on and continue what we have been doing, which is winning hockey games and getting points."

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