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Ovi Loves Florida: Washington Capitals 4, Panthers 3

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Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin had a hat trick — with two goals coming within a span of 56 seconds — against the Florida Panthers on Friday at Capital One Arena. // Photo by @sammi_silber Washington Hockey Now

The Florida Panthers were able to keep a lid (relatively speaking) on Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin the last time these two met earlier in the month.

They were not able to do the same on Friday night.

Ovechkin — who, it should be noted had a goal and three points back on Nov. 4 — scored three goals on Friday as the Capitals handed the Panthers a 4-3 loss at Capital One Arena.

He now has 18 goals this season which is second in the NHL. Ovechkin is currently fourth all-time with 748 goals. Jaromir Jagr (766) is up next with Wayne Gretzky (894) at least somewhat in reach.

Friday marked his 29th career hat trick.

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Florida has now lost five consecutive road games, going 0-3-2 with four of the losses coming to teams from the Metropolitan Division.

The good news for the Panthers is this was a very short road trip.

Florida will be back at home Saturday night against Chris Driedger, Alex Wennberg and the expansion Seattle Kraken where it will try and make NHL history.

Florida has already tied the NHL record by starting its season 11-0 on home ice. If the Panthers win Saturday, they will pass the 1963 Chicago Black Hawks for the all-time best home start in league history.

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Florida looked a little slow to react to the fast-paced play of the Capitals in the first period but Jonathan Huberdeau jumped on a puck turned over by Washington in its own zone in the final minute.

With Owen Tippett trailing, Huberdeau walked in on Ilya Samsonov and handled business by sending a backhander through with 32 seconds remaining before the break.

The Florida lead would not last very long at all.

Ovechkin slashed Sam Bennett just 10 seconds into the second period, but Florida’s power play looked as bad as it ever did.

RELATED: Capitals notebook from Washington Hockey Now

The Panthers were slow to make a change and the Caps took advantage with John Carlson getting the puck and feeding Tom Wilson for the shorthanded goal.

Wilson collided with Bobrovsky following the goal, apparently knocking him in the head.

The Florida goalie was slow to get up and left the ice after Ovechkin got his first of the night at 2:50 of the period with Spencer Knight coming in.

Moments after that, Ovechkin got No. 2.

Bobrovsky came back pretty quickly only to be pulled out of the game by NHL officials after Sam Reinhart scored to make it a 3-2 game at 6:49.

The league concussion spotter was apparently not convinced Bobrovsky was good to go — and Knight returned to the net.

After making six saves and keeping things at 3-2, Knight again gave way to Bobrovsky who finished out the game.

In the third, the Panthers left Ovechkin all alone — and that’s never a smart thing to do.

Camped out in the slot, Ovechkin took a feed from Evgeny Kuznetsov and rifled a shot Bobrovsky may have heard but never saw.

Not long after, Carter Verhaeghe got the Panthers back within a goal by scoring a pretty goal. Verhaeghe did a nice job shifting through the Washington defense and into the zone, snapping a wrist shot past Samsonov at 5:36.

Florida ended up pulling Bobrovsky in the final three minutes but only got a couple of quality scoring chances against Samsonov.

The Panthers ended up going 0-for-3 on the power play and are now 1-for-24 since beating Carolina at home earlier this month.

DUCLAIR OUT

Florida was without Anthony Duclair who was in warmups but did not make the opening lineup.

The Panthers later said it was a lower body injury.

Maxim Mamin not only drew into the lineup, but replaced Duclair on the top line. Tippett replaced him there in the second.

OVI BEATS UP ON FLORIDA (AGAIN)

With the three goals Friday, Ovechkin has 43 goals against the Panthers — tied for his most against all teams with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Florida, Washington and Carolina were all bunched together in the Southeast Division until 2013.

Ovechkin’s 88 points against the Panthers is second-most to the 95 he has scored against the Hurricanes.

Ovechkin has played the Panthers 67 times and Carolina 81.

GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME

1. Alex Ovechkin, Washington

2. Tom Wilson, Washington

3. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

SEATTLE KRAKEN AT FLORIDA PANTHERS

  • WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m.
  • WHERE: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
  • TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
  • RADIO: WQAM 560
  • Last season: Did not play
  • All-time record: First-ever meeting

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