Florida Panthers vs. Washington Capitals Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 24th 2024

The Florida Panthers could be missing a few key pieces when they host the Washington Capitals on Saturday night.

Matthew Tkachuk, who leads the Panthers with 45 assists, and defenseman Gustav Forsling left Thursday’s 1-0 loss at the Carolina Hurricanes in the first period due to unspecified injuries. Forsling is sixth on the team with 19 assists and averages nearly 22 minutes of ice time per game.

Neither player returned.

“Both are probably day-to-day,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “I don’t think it’s too significant, but we’re always careful with anything like that these days.”

The Panthers may rest starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who is 7-1-0 in his past eight starts. He was between the pipes when Carolina scored the game’s lone goal with just 19 seconds left to play. The loss snapped Florida’s six-game winning streak.

If Bobrovsky sits, the Panthers would turn to outstanding backup Anthony Stolarz (9-5-2, 1.97 goals against average).

Bobrovsky, who leads the Eastern Conference in wins, is 28-11-2 with a 2.36 GAA.

Regardless of who is in net, the Panthers have held opponents to two goals or fewer in 12 straight games.

Along with Tkachuk, the Panthers are led offensively by Sam Reinhart, Carter Verhaeghe and Aleksander Barkov.

Reinhart ranks second in the NHL with 39 goals. He also leads the Panthers with 67 points, followed by Tkachuk (65), Verhaeghe (59) and Barkov (54). Verhaeghe is second on the team with 30 goals.

Another Panthers player to watch is defenseman Brandon Montour, who played a season-high 28:26 on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Washington, which won at Tampa Bay 5-3 on Thursday, has won three straight games — its longest streak since December.

Further, the Capitals have not trailed during the past three games.

However, Washington has lost a key player to injury in each of those contests: top-pair defenseman Martin Fehervary and forwards Nic Dowd and TJ Oshie.

Fehervary has a long-term injury. Capitals coach Spencer Carberry told reporters Friday that Oshie — sixth on the team with 10 goals — didn’t skate Friday and isn’t expected to play Saturday, but didn’t specify the nature of Oshie’s injury.

Dowd, who is seventh on the team with eight goals, is considered day-to-day.

Among the Capitals not on the injury list is defenseman John Carlson, although he is starting to show signs of aging.

Carlson, 34, had 17 goals two years ago and has scored at least eight goals in 10 straight years. This year, though, he has just three goals in 55 games. He does lead the team in assists with 28.

Alex Ovechkin, 38, ranks behind only Wayne Gretzky in the NHL’s career goal-scoring list with 838. He had 42 tallies in 73 games last season. This season, he has only 16 goals in 52 games, though he has seven goals and 11 points in his last eight games.

Dylan Strome leads Washington with 21 goals and ranks second in points with 41, one behind Ovechkin.

Anthony Mantha ranks second on the Capitals with 18 goals, and Tom Wilson, who leads the squad with 165 hits, has 12 goals.

Charlie Lindgren (12-8-4, 2.63 GAA) and Darcy Kuemper (12-12-3, 3.16) are Washington’s goalies.

“Our team doesn’t get rattled,” Carberry said of his team’s performance Thursday. “You could tell (against Tampa Bay) we weren’t going to let a couple of bad scenarios determine our fate.”

–Field Level Media

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