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Florida Panthers Still Wary of Aging Alex Ovechkin

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Alex Ovechkin, pictured during a game in Tampa last March, returns to Sunrise tonight to face the Panthers. No player has scored as many goals or has as many points against Florida than Washington’s No. 8. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

FORT LAUDERDALE — The Florida Panthers are still wary of Alex Ovechkin despite his uncharacteristically low-scoring season.

Ovechkin has just 10 goals and 32 points in 45 games and is in jeopardy of having his first season with fewer than 20 goals.

That includes two seasons which were cut in half.

“We will assume the shot is right on,” Florida coach Paul Maurice said.

“There are places on the ice that we cannot allow him time to get to and you do have to be a disciplined hockey team and stay out of the penalty box because the shot is still there.

“There are a handful of highly unique players around the league and his shot makes him McDavid-ish. These guys are highly unique guys that we do have to be aware of.”

Ovechkin remains in pursuit of the NHL’s goals record, and has gotten himself back on track recently with goals in two-straight games.

His 832 goals are 62 shy of Wayne Gretzky’s long-standing goal record of 894.

For a long time, it was assumed nobody would ever get close to breaking that record, but Ovechkin remains in the conversation.

”He’s the only one right now,” said Dmitry Kulikov. “There is no one else right now.

“There might be someone in the future, but he’s done some great things to be able to score goals. Especially when teams develop penalty kills to cover one guy and he was still able to score goals. That’s pretty amazing.”

Ovechkin has scored in back-to-back games and has 12 points with four goals in his past 12.

With 43 goals and 88 points in 70 games against Florida, Ovechkin ranks first all-time in goals, assists and points against the Panthers.

— The starting goalies for tonight: Sergei Bobrovsky against Darcy Kuemper.

ON DECK

WASHINGTON CAPITALS @ FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Amerant Bank Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Local Odds — Panthers Favored: Money Line (-250); Puck line (-1.5, +105); Over/Under 5.5 (-130/+105)
  • This Season: At Washington: Panthers 4, Capitals 3 OT (Nov. 8). At Florida: Thursday; Feb. 24 
  • Last Season: Panthers won 3-0
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Washington leads 67-46-13, 9 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Saturday vs. Colorado, 6 p.m.

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS (31-15-4) LINES

17 Evan Rodrigues // 16 Sasha Barkov// 13 Sam Reinhart

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

27 Eetu Luostarinen // 15 Anton Lundell // 21 Nick Cousins

12 Jonah Gadjovich // 82 Kevin Stenlund //94 Ryan Lomberg

42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad

77 Niko Mikkola // 62 Brandon Montour

91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson // 7 Dmitry Kulikov

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

41 Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Josh Mahura, Steven Lorentz, Will Lockwood

PROJECTED WASHINGTON CAPITALS (22-19-7) LINEUP

8 Alex Ovechkin //17 Dylan Strome // 43 Tom Wilson

67 Max Pacioretty // 24 Connor McMichael // 77 T.J. Oshie

21 Aliaksei Protas // 23 Michael Sgarbossa //39 Anthony Mantha

47 Beck Malenstyn // 26 Nic Dowd // 45 Matthew Phillips

42 Martin Fehervary // 74 John Carlson

38 Rasmus Sandin // 25 Ethan Bear

6 Joel Edmundson // 3 Nick Jensen

35 Darcy Kuemper

79 Charlie Lindgren

Scratched: Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Alexander Alexeyev, Trevor van Riemsdyk

Injured: Sonny Milano (upper body)

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