Alex Ovechkin scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection 7:34 into the third period and the Washington Capitals extended their winning streak to three games with a 4-2 victory against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center on Thursday.
After Ovechkin gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead with his second goal of the season, Marcus Johansson capitalized on a turnover by Jason Demers with 1:20 remaining.
Goaltender Braden Holtby made 26 saves to help the Capitals improve to 3-0-1.
"At the start of the season, it's always important to take points," Ovechkin said. "We didn't lose a game [in regulation] and that's a good sign. We just have to collect the points and move forward."
Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr scored his 750th NHL goal in the second period for the Panthers, who lost in regulation for the first time (2-1-1). The 44-year-old became the third player in history to reach the milestone with Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801).
"That's nice, but I'd rather win," Jagr said. "So it's kind of tough."
Video: WSH@FLA: Williams scores on his own rebound
The Capitals took a 2-0 lead with goals 1:56 apart from Justin Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov in the first period. Williams scored on his own rebound in front at 8:25 after defenseman Nate Schmidt set him up off a left wing rush. Kuznestov then deflected defenseman Matt Niskanen's wrist shot in under goaltender Roberto Luongo's glove at 10:21.
Florida rookie defenseman Michael Matheson made it 2-1 at 13:47 of the first by beating Holtby with a shot from the left half wall.
The Panthers outshot the Capitals 14-4 in the second period, and tied the game with Jagr's power-play goal with 5:50 remaining. The Capitals responded by outshooting the Panthers 13-6 in the third.
"They're a pretty good team," Holtby said. "I think we realized that in the second period with their speed and we made some adjustments and came out and played our game."
Video: WSH@FLA: Kuznetsov redirects puck past Luongo
Goal of the game
Ovechkin was limited to two shots on goal, but was in the right place at the right time on his winning goal. Standing in front, Ovechkin got a piece of Niskanen's bouncing left point shot and redirected it inside the right post. The assist was Niskanen's second of the game.
"It was a good play by our 'D'," Ovechkin said. "Look what happened in front of the net. I think we have the skill to redirect the puck and try to score goals out there."
Video: WSH@FLA: Ovechkin redirects Niskanen's blast for lead
Save of the Game
After Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky got around Matheson in the right circle, Luongo was in perfect position to make a pad save and keep the game 0-0 at 6:10 of the first period.
Video: WSH@FLA: Luongo stops Burakovsky's nifty move
Unsung moment of the game
With a 3-2 lead, the Capitals killed off Schmidt's interference penalty at 9:22 of the third period by holding the Panthers to one shot on goal. Left wing Daniel Winnik contributed by dropping to the ice to block a Reilly Smith slap shot that went off his helmet. Winnik briefly went to the locker room, but returned to finish the game.
"He got the puck sort of in the ear hole and it sort of pinched off his ear," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "The trainers looked at him and he was just fine. He was just missing a piece of his ear. It got chewed up a little bit. It's just a small piece."
Highlight of the game
Jagr's 750th NHL goal was also his first of the season. He circled high in the offensive zone and cut into the slot to take a pass from Aleksander Barkov and snap a shot in past Holtby's glove.
"It's always good to get the first one," Jagr said. "A good play, a good pass, and I was very open in the slot."
Video: WSH@FLA: Jagr nets PPG for 750th of career
They said it
"I think we did just enough to win tonight. Sometimes you think you just enough and you lose. Obviously, we were fortunate to win, but good teams win when they don't have their best games and we did tonight." -- Capitals right wing Justin Williams
"We did have a great second period and I don't think that the third period was much worse. I thought we had a good third period, too. But there were a few times where we had a few chances to bury it and we didn't." -- Panthers defenseman Michael Matheson
Video: WSH@FLA: Johansson puts Capitals ahead by two late
Need to know
The Capitals have allowed two even-strength goals this season. … Washington has scored first in all four of its games and has yet to allow a third-period goal. … The Panthers killed off the Capitals' lone power play and are 8-for-8 on the penalty kill this season. … Holtby improved to 8-0-1 in his career against the Panthers.
Capitals: Host the New York Rangers on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CSN-DC, MSG, NHL.TV).
Panthers: Host the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; FS-F, ALT, NHL.TV).
Video: Ovechkin, Johansson lead Capitals past Panthers, 4-2