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Capitals Game Day

Capitals vs. Panthers: Lines, Tale of the Tape, Players To Watch

The Washington Capitals look to get back on track against the Florida Panthers. Here are lines, key stats, who to watch and more.



WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals are carrying a lot of emotion into Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers, as they look to not only win and snap a two-game skid for Alex Ovechkin, who lost his father on Wednesday and remains away from the team indefinitely, but avenge their last home loss to the Panthers that led to their elimination from the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Here is everything to know ahead of puck drop.

Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers: Lines

With no Ovechkin and forwards Nic Dowd and Tom Wilson and defensemen John Carlson still on the shelf with injuries, the Capitals will keep the same forward lines as Tuesday, with Joe Snively staying in after unexpectedly drawing in for Aliaksei Protas. The only change will come on defense, with Dylan McIlrath coming up from Hershey and set to play in his first NHL game since 2019.

Here are the lines from morning skate:

Anthony Mantha-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Conor Sheary

Sonny Milano-Nicklas Backstrom-Marcus Johansson

Joe Snively-Dylan Strome-T.J. Oshie

Nicolas Aube-Kubel-Lars Eller-Garnet Hathaway

Erik Gustafsson-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Martin Fehervary-Dylan McIlrath

Darcy Kuemper will start against Florida. The healthy scratches are Protas, Matt Irwin and Alex Alexeyev.

Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers: Tale of the Tape

The Capitals (28-22-6) are coming off a tough loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, a game where they played well enough to win but saw three similar goals against and a disallowed game-tying tally lead to a regulation loss. They are clinging onto the second Wild Card spot, and Thursday's game is a must-win with the playoff race getting tighter ahead of the Stadium Series. The team is also looking to get back on track with the power play and find ways to score goals, having only struck twice in regulation in 11 of the last 15 outings.

Key stats for Washington: GF/G: 3.04 (20th), GA/G: 2.82 (11th), PP%: 22.1 (15th), PK%: 81.2 (8th)

Florida (27-24-6) sits two points out of Wild Card position and is looking to get back in the race as it comes down to the wire. The Panthers have won three of their last five games, but they dropped their last game 6-2 to the St. Louis Blues. Their high-powered offense can make a lot happen and do a lot of damage, and they are also a heavier team who can score dirty goals and like to establish a strong net-front presence. However, they do struggle defensively.

Key stats for Florida: GF/G: GF/G: 3.40 (7th), GA/G: 3.44 (24th), PP%: 19.9 (21st), PK%: 75.6 (25th)

Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers: Players to Watch

For the Capitals, keep an eye on Snively, who is coming off a multi-point performance against the Hurricanes. He and T.J. Oshie, who picked up his 11th goal of the season back on Tuesday, had great chemistry and will play together again on Thursday. Also look out for Trevor van Riemsdyk, who has assists in back-to-back games. Nicolas Aube-Kubel has also been getting high-quality chances and is set to play in his 200th NHL game. And lastly, look for McIlrath to try and make a statement as he returns to the NHL.

Looking at Florida, Matthew Tkachuk is the biggest name to watch. The new acquisition has been an excellent addition and has a team-leading 75 points in 54 games, and he has picked up nine points over his last five games. Eetu Luosttarinen has goals in back-to-back games and three goals in his last five outings overall. Carter Verhaghe also has two multi-point performances in his last five games, and of course, keep an eye on Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, Brandon Montour and more.

How To Tune In

Local Capitals fans can tune in on NBC Sports Washington or listen on 106.7 The Fan or Caps Radio 24/7. Panthers fans can watch on Bally Sports Florida or listen on WQAM-AM.

Puck drop is at 7 p.m. at Capital One Arena.

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