for this game

Kozlov, Backstrom help Capitals top Panthers

Jan 20, 2008 - 5:07 AM By Tim Hipps PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- Viktor Kozlov scored two goals, rookie Nicklas Backstrom had a career-high four assists and the Washington Capitals climbed into third place in the Southeast Division with a 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

Alex Ovechkin added a tally and an assist as the Capitals (21-21-5) overcame Panthers rookie Shawn Matthias' first two career goals to improve to 4-1-0 on their five-game homestand.

"We've officially reached mediocrity," Washington coach Bruce Boudreau joked. "We always have little goals, and that was a little goal. I haven't mentioned it yet. We didn't even mention it in the room. It wasn't part of the plan. We just thought we could get (to the .500 mark).

"Like anything else, the easiest part is to get there and the hard part is to get over it and stay above it. If we have any or want a chance to make the playoffs, you have to get better than that."

Alexander Semin provided the game-winner as he extended his goal-scoring streak to four games with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle off the long rebound of a shot by Ovechkin. Backstrom notched his third assist of the night on the play as Washington grabbed a 4-3 lead at 12:17 of the second period.

"The last couple weeks, we've played pretty good and started winning some games," Backstrom said. "Every player is important on this team, and today, we showed that."

"They're starting to find each other, and that's good news," Boudreau added.

Despite not realizing Backstrom had four assists, Panthers captain Olli Jokinen was not surprised by the Swede's brilliant performance.

"He's from the Swedish Elite League, which is not an easy league to play," Jokinen said. "He played in the World Championship, a high level the last couple of years, so his play doesn't surprise. But to be honest, I didn't know that he had four assists."

Ovechkin buried a slap shot for his team-leading 36th goal of the season and a 5-3 lead at 4:40 of the third period. The tally extended Ovechkin's goal-scoring streak to four games.

"It's just the beginning for us," Ovechkin said of the Capitals, who are 15-0-1 when leading after two periods. "We want to be in the best spot, and we deserve to be in this spot. We had a terrible start of the season, we lose every game. Right now, we play more better and win the game."

Jokinen had nothing but praise for the Capitals, who moved past the Panthers for third place in the division and pulled within three points of the Carolina Hurricanes for the top spot with three games in hand.

"Look at their last 10 games - they're 7-2-1," Jokinen said. "They are one of the better teams in the league the last 10 games. Their last five games, they are 4-1. It wasn't a surprise the way they play.

"They've been scoring three-plus goals the last I-don't-know-how-many games. There's a lot of skill there, and their skill players are their hardest-working guys, too. You can see that on the scoresheet."

Matthias, a 19-year-old rookie who made his NHL debut in Friday's victory at New Jersey, helped Florida erase a 3-0 deficit with a pair of goals in the second period. His first tally came just 57 seconds into the session, when defenseman Bryan Allen's shot caromed in off his glove.

Matthias, who led Team Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior Championship, redirected a shot by blue-liner Steve Montador during a power play at 4:53 for his second goal of the night, cutting the deficit to 3-2.

"He's a good young player," Jokinen said. "I think he's ready to play in this league. He showed it in training camp. He should have made the team in the training camp the way he played in the first week, but it was probably good for him to start the year in juniors.

"He played well in juniors and he's going to be a big help for this franchise. Hopefully, they keep the kid here. The way he's playing, he's helping the team. We need our best players to play every night, and he's one of them right now."

Jokinen's power-play goal, his team-leading 23rd tally of the season, forged a tie at 10:37 of the period.

Kozlov, who had not scored in two weeks, netted two goals against his former team in the first period. Kozlov, who played for the Panthers from 1997-2004, redirected defenseman Mike Green's slap shot from just inside the blue line past goaltender Brent Johnson at 6:49 for a 1-0 lead.

Defenseman John Erskine scored on another long blast just 66 seconds later for a 2-0 bulge.

Kozlov's second goal of the game off a pass by Backstrom - who leads all rookies with 27 assists - gave Washington a 3-0 lead at 11:16 of the first.

"Because we did bad in the second period, we wanted to show the crowd we were better than we were," said Backstrom, whose four assists tied a franchise rookie record.

Johnson made 25 saves to improve to 5-5-1 on the season.

"You look at the goals that beat him, they were deflections," Boudreau said. "And you give Olli a breakaway from the top of the slot, and it's not too often that he's not going to score. So I thought Brent made all the saves that he had to make. If he could see it, he was stopping it."

Tomas Vokoun turned aside 30 shots for Florida.

Capitals defenseman Shaone Morrisonn took a puck off the leg and missed the third period.

"He's OK. That's what he told me," Boudreau said. "He took a pretty good shot, but hey, in today's NHL ,you need to block those shots. It takes a lot of courage to do it. We've got a lot of guys who do it, and that's part of success."






  • 10
    roots
    dcnationals74 Added 5 roots

    Panthers vs. CapitalsJan 24 7:51 AM
  • 5
    roots
    DanSportsfan Added 5 roots

    Panthers vs. CapitalsJan 22 11:07 PM


  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 3 0 3
    WASHINGTON 3 1 1 5 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) VIKTOR KOZLOV 5 (MIKE GREEN, NICKLAS BACKSTROM)
    6:49
    WAS - JOHN ERSKINE 2 (DAVID STECKEL, QUINTIN LAING) 7:55
    WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 6 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM) 11:16
    2ND PRD: FLA - SHAWN MATTHIAS 1 (BRYAN ALLEN) 0

    Jan 19 9:35 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 3
    WASHINGTON 5
    3RD PRD: WAS - (PP) ALEX OVECHKIN 36 (MIKE GREEN, NICKLAS BACKSTROM)
    4:40

    Panthers vs. CapitalsJan 19 9:04 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 3 3
    WASHINGTON 3 1 4 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) VIKTOR KOZLOV 5 (MIKE GREEN, NICKLAS BACKSTROM)
    6:49
    WAS - JOHN ERSKINE 2 (DAVID STECKEL, QUINTIN LAING) 7:55
    WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 6 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM) 11:16
    2ND PRD: FLA - SHAWN MATTHIAS 1 (B

    Jan 19 8:39 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 3
    WASHINGTON 4
    2ND PRD: WAS - (PP) ALEXANDER SEMIN 11 (ALEX OVECHKIN, NICKLAS
    BACKSTROM) 12:17

    Panthers vs. CapitalsJan 19 8:29 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 3
    WASHINGTON 3
    2ND PRD: FLA - (PP) OLLI JOKINEN 22 (NATHAN HORTON, MAGNUS JOHANSSON)
    10:37

    Panthers vs. CapitalsJan 19 8:28 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 2
    WASHINGTON 3
    2ND PRD: FLA - (PP) SHAWN MATTHIAS 2 (STEVE MONTADOR, OLLI JOKINEN)
    4:53

    Panthers vs. CapitalsJan 19 8:13 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 1
    WASHINGTON 3
    2ND PRD: FLA - SHAWN MATTHIAS 1 (BRYAN ALLEN) 0:57

    Panthers vs. CapitalsJan 19 8:07 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    FLORIDA 0 0
    WASHINGTON 3 3 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) VIKTOR KOZLOV 5 (MIKE GREEN, NICKLAS BACKSTROM)
    6:49
    WAS - JOHN ERSKINE 2 (DAVID STECKEL, QUINTIN LAING) 7:55
    WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 6 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM) 11:16
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3R

    Jan 19 7:46 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 0
    WASHINGTON 3
    1ST PRD: WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 6 (NICKLAS BACKSTROM) 11:16

    Panthers vs. CapitalsJan 19 7:32 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 0
    WASHINGTON 2
    1ST PRD: WAS - JOHN ERSKINE 2 (DAVID STECKEL, QUINTIN LAING) 7:55

    Panthers vs. CapitalsJan 19 7:25 PM


  • NHL
    FLORIDA 0
    WASHINGTON 1
    1ST PRD: WAS - (PP) VIKTOR KOZLOV 5 (MIKE GREEN, NICKLAS BACKSTROM)
    6:49

    Panthers vs. CapitalsJan 19 7:25 PM