Caps, Panthers look to regain offensive momentum

Sports
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The Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers both will be looking for more offensive punch when they meet in the nation’s capital Wednesday night.

Washington has scored just two goals in the past two games, losing two in a row for the first time since the second week of the season.

The most recent loss was a 2-1 decision to Vancouver at home this past Saturday, a game the Canucks won in a seven-round shootout. Washington did not get one goal in that shootout session.

In the game before that, the New York Rangers handed the Caps a 4-1 defeat. The unusual part of this brief skid is that Washington had several scoring chances in both games but was unable to take advantage of them.

That was especially true in the loss to Vancouver in the opener of a three-game homestand. Washington took a 1-0 lead when Jakub Vrana scored just 2:22 into the game, but the Caps couldn’t come through after that.

“It (just) didn’t happen,” said Washington’s Lars Eller. “That little bounce or execution or whatever it was that was lacking … to get that second goal. I think we did a lot of good things, though, just not enough (to score).”

The Capitals also have a few injury issues. Coach Todd Reirden said that Nicklas Backstrom will be out against the Panthers, missing a third straight game with an upper-body injury. But the Caps are hoping that Nic Dowd (hand) could return in this contest.

Washington made one player move a few days ago, reassigning forward Mike Sgarbossa to Hershey of the AHL.

Florida came into last weekend’s set of back-to-back games with Carolina and Buffalo holding a three-game winning streak, but the Panthers stumbled in both games.

They fell to Carolina (4-2) and then Buffalo (5-2) a day later. That marks the first time the Panthers have dropped consecutive games in regulation this season.

The offense struggled in both games after doing well throughout the month, and that’s something they’re pointing at having more success with against Washington. Problems in the offensive end hurt them in the Buffalo game as the Panthers fell behind 3-0 early and never could make up the deficit.

“We’ve been scoring a lot of goals, so I think it was only a matter of time before we hit a little bit of a rut in the season,” Florida’s Brett Connolly (a former Capital) told NHL.com. “It’s not going to be perfect every night. We’ve been getting tested a little bit the last couple of games, but it’s a solid group in here.”

The Panthers also had an interesting story with defenseman Keith Yandle playing in his 821st straight game in the Buffalo contest. What makes that unusual is that a puck hit Yandle in the face the previous day, and he needed about nine teeth worked on.

That took place, and Yandle kept his long streak alive by playing the following day. The team’s website said he has not been out of a game since March 22, 2009, when playing for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Florida also made a move before the Washington game, recalling goalie Chris Driedger from Springfield of the AHL.

–Field Level Media

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