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Panthers at Capitals preview

Connolly has five goals in past six games for Florida; Washington tries to end mini skid

by Harvey Valentine / Independent Correspondent

PANTHERS (12-7-5) at CAPITALS (16-4-5)



The Game

Brett Connolly will play at the Washington Capitals for the first time as a member of the Florida Panthers when the teams play at Capital One Arena on Wednesday.

The forward, who has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his past six games, had 96 points (52 goals and 44 assists) for Washington in three seasons from 2016-19 and helped the Capitals win their first Stanley Cup championship in 2018. He signed a four-year contract with the Panthers on July 1 and leads them with 11 goals.

Florida has lost two straight games after going 5-1-0 in its previous six.

The Capitals have scored two goals during a two-game winless streak (0-1-1) after outscoring their opponents 67-46 while going 13-1-2 in their previous 16 games.


Players to watch

Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad has five points (three goals, two assists) in a three-game point streak.

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has three points (two goals, one assist) in his past eight games.


They said it

"I want a great start. We want the puck management part of it, let's keep it, let's put it in good areas. [Washington] likes to hang on to the puck. We've got to get it back. We've got to earn it back. We've got to be good in the battle areas. We want to make sure that we're better defending the rush as a team and tighten up that area." -- Panthers coach Joel Quenneville

"I think they're a really dangerous team. When I watch them play, they're explosive offensively. They spread out their talent through their lineup. Their defense is playing as well as I've seen them play the last few years." -- Capitals coach Todd Reirden on the Panthers


Panthers projected lineup  

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Mike Hoffman

Brett Connolly -- Vincent Trocheck -- Denis Malgin

Frank Vatrano -- Dominic Toninato -- Evgenii Dadonov

Brian Boyle -- Noel Acciari -- Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle -- Aaron Ekblad

Mike Matheson -- Anton Stralman

Mark Pysyk -- Josh Brown

Sergei Bobrovsky

Chris Driedger

Scratched: None

Injured: Jayce Hawryluk (upper body), MacKenzie Weegar (upper body)


Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Evgeny Kuznetsov -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Lars Eller -- T.J. Oshie

Richard Panik -- Chandler Stephenson -- Travis Boyd

Beck Malenstyn -- Nic Dowd -- Brendan Leipsic

Michal Kempny -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Nick Jensen

Jonas Siegenthaler -- Radko Gudas

Braden Holtby

Ilya Samsonov

Scratched: Christian Djoos

Injured: Nicklas Backstrom (upper body), Carl Hagelin (upper body)

Suspended: Garnet Hathaway


Status report

Backstrom will miss his third game in a row and remains day-to-day. He participated in the morning skate wearing a non-contact jersey. Dowd returns after missing five straight games because of an upper-body injury. Hathaway will serve the third of a three-game suspension for a spitting incident involving Anaheim Ducks defenseman Erik Gudbranson on Nov. 18.


Stat pack

Florida has scored 33 third-period goals, which is the second in the NHL. Yandle ranks second among NHL defensemen in assists (11) and third in points (12) since Nov. 2. … Ovechkin needs one power-play goal to tie Teemu Selanne (255) for third place on the NHL all-time list. Carlson has 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in his past nine games. Kuznetsov has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in his past 10 games.

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