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Kuznetsov's OT goal lifts Capitals past Panthers

NHL.com @NHL

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored at 3:44 of overtime to give the Washington Capitals a 2-1 victory against the Florida Panthers at BB&T Center on Saturday.

Washington is 12-0-2 in its past 14 games against the Panthers, who haven't beaten the Capitals in regulation since Feb. 1, 2012.

After an icing call against the Panthers, Washington won the draw and Kuznetsov took a pass from Alex Ovechkin. He spun to his left to get away from Florida defenseman Brian Campbell and cut toward the net before beating goaltender Al Montoya to the short side for his fifth goal of the season.

"It wasn't our best game, but we got the two points," Kuznetsov told Monumental Networks. "We have to play better."

Jussi Jokinen had a second-period goal and Montoya made 25 saves for Florida (5-4-2). Jay Beagle tied the game early in the third for Washington, and rookie goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 26 saves.

"[Grubauer] stood on his head and kept us in it," Beagle said. "We played a gritty style in the third [period] and we got away with two points."

At 8-2-0, the Capitals have matched the 1991-92 and 2011-12 teams for the best 10-game start in franchise history.

They also moved into first place in the Metropolitan Division. Washington and the New York Rangers each have 16 points, but the Capitals have a game in hand. They play Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

Coach Barry Trotz is happy with the mix of grit and scoring he's seen so far.

"If we can have a combination of a blue-collar work ethic with some white-collar skill, then we can be a good team," he said.

Florida was without its top scorer, Jaromir Jagr, for the second straight game. He hasn't played since leaving Florida's 4-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday because of a lower-body injury.

"We played another good game tonight. We take a big point out of tonight, but I thought we could have gotten a little bit better than that," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant told Fox Sports Florida. "We competed, we battled. It was disappointing to lose in overtime, but it was fun. The overtime was fun."

The Panthers had the better of play in the scoreless first period, outshooting the Capitals 10-5 and drawing the only two power plays. Each goaltender came up big in the final minute; Montoya denied Washington defenseman John Carlson at the right post with 29 seconds left, and Grubauer denied Reilly Smith from the left circle 10 seconds later.

Florida went ahead 2:47 into the second period, five seconds after Eric Gudbranson's holding penalty expired. Defenseman Alex Petrovic blocked Ovechkin's shot and the puck caromed to Dave Bolland, who led a 2-on-1 break. He slid the puck to Jokinen, who didn't play the pass cleanly but then batted the airborne puck behind Grubauer at 2:47 for his third of the season.

The Panthers continued to carry the play, but Nick Bjugstad was wide with a backhander at 5:30 and Grubauer robbed Pirri from point-blank range after a steal less than two minutes later.

Montoya made the best of his nine second-period saves with four minutes left when he used his glove to stop Brooks Laich's backhand shot from just outside the crease.

The Capitals tied the game 2:23 into the third period when Beagle nudged the carom of Ovechkin's blocked shot into the net for his second goal of the season. Gallant challenged the call on the ice, contending that Justin Williams had interfered with Montoya in the crease, but the goal stood.

"I just crashed the net, and I was fortunate to have the puck come my way," Beagle said.

Montoya said he thought he would have stopped the puck had Williams' stick not impeded him, but added, "that's the call. That's hockey. It's a quick game."

Grubauer forced overtime when he got his pad on Bolland's wrist shot from the slot in the final seconds of the third period.

The Panthers played well in back-to-back nights against the Boston Bruins and the Capitals, but ended up with one point.

"We played two good teams the past two nights," Gallant said. "When you're getting chances, that's a good sign. If we weren't getting chances, then I'd be frustrated."

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