Washington – Beating the defending Stanley Cup and Eastern Conference champions, along with the top team in the NHL this season, says something about the upstart Florida Panthers. The way they’ve done it says even more.
Jonathan Huberdeau had two goals and an assist as the Panthers blew out the Washington Capitals 5-2 Tuesday night for their fourth straight victory. They’ve outscored the Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs and Capitals 19-5 to extend their lead in the Atlantic Division.
“That’s great teams — the best teams in the league,” said Aleksander Barkov, who had a goal and an assist. “We can beat any team in this league and can dominate any team.”
This wasn’t domination in the traditional sense. Even without captain Alex Ovechkin, suspended after missing the All-Star Game, Washington had 38 shots to Florida’s 19 and a similar advantage at even strength.
But in a matchup of the East’s top two teams, the Panthers got stellar goaltending early from backup Al Montoya and added the opportunistic offense necessary to knock off the Caps, who fell to 13-13-2 all-time without Ovechkin.
“We were outshot all night long but we had the lead all night long,” said coach Gerard Gallant, who earlier in the day said his goal wasn’t to catch Washington for the top spot in the East. “A big part was our goaltending. He was outstanding and our penalty killers did a good job.”
Montoya stopped 36 of the 38 shots he faced, and Florida killed off all eight Caps power plays.
Oilers 5, Blue Jackets 1
In Edmonton, Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists in his return from a nearly three-month absence.
Penguins 6, Senators 5
In Pittsburgh, Sidney Crosby scored three straight goals for his first natural hat trick in more than five years.
Blackhawks 2, Avalanche 1
In Denver, Corey Crawford stopped 22 shots, Richard Panik and Artemi Panarin scored and Chicago beat Colorado without captain Jonathan Toews.
Ducks 3, Sharks 2
In Anaheim, Ryan Garbutt, Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell scored to send the Ducks to their fourth consecutive victory.
Kings 6, Coyotes 2
In Glendale, Arizona, Dustin Brown scored twice and Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez each added a goal and an assist.
Blues 1, Predators 0
In Nashville, Troy Brouwer scored with 1:05 remaining in the third period and Brian Elliott made 16 saves.
Stars 5, Jets 3
In Winnipeg, Tyler Seguin scored twice, John Klingberg had a goal and an assist and Dallas held on to beat the Jets.
Devils 3, Rangers 2
In Newark, New Jersey, David Schlemko scored on a power play with 8:46 left.
Islanders 5, Wild 3
In New York, Brock Nelson’s team-leading 20th goal broke a tie late in the second period.
Maple Leafs 4, Bruins 3 (OT)
In Boston, Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau scored a power-play goal with 1:54 left in overtime.
Flyers 4, Canadiens 2
In Philadelphia, Wayne Simmonds scored two goals.