Troy Brouwer scored twice and Braden Holtby stopped 27 shots to notch his fourth career shutout, as the Washington Capitals crushed the Florida Panthers, 5-0, in the opener of a home-and-home series on Saturday at Verizon Center.
Joel Ward and Mathieu Perreault each registered a goal and an assist, while Alex Ovechkin also lit the lamp for the Capitals, who snapped a three-game slide.
Florida goaltender Jose Theodore was pulled midway through the third period after giving up all five goals on just 21 shots as the Panthers lost for the second time in their last three games.
"We got outworked tonight," Florida coach Kevin Dineen admitted. "Everybody didn't have enough to give tonight for us to be successful."
Brouwer's first goal came off a deflection late in the opening stanza when John Carlson intercepted Jerred Smithson's clearing attempt near the right circle and let fly with a slap shot that took a strange carom off the leg of Brouwer before sneaking past Theodore to make it 1-0 at the 17:45 mark.
The Capitals then doubled their advantage early in the second when Holtby flipped a pass from in front of his own net to Brouwer at the Florida blue line. Brouwer skated in and rifled a shot from the top of the right circle that whizzed past Theodore at the 3:36 mark.
Washington's forecheck helped push the lead to 3-0 at the 11:55 mark of the middle stanza when the Caps won a scrum on the left boards and the puck squirted into the left circle, where Ward ripped a quick shot that sailed past the stick side of Theodore.
Ovechkin's one-timer off an offensive zone faceoff win early in the third gave the Caps a four-goal lead before Perreault pounded home a rebound off a point blast from Jeff Schultz at the 9:28 mark to make it 5-0 and chase Theodore from the contest.
Scott Clemmensen relieved Theodore and turned away all four shots he faced, but Florida's offense couldn't break through on Holtby, who stopped all six third-period shots to keep the shutout intact.
"The traffic in front of the net was nonexistent today because our defense and our forwards really took it to heart this last little while that we need to bear down in our end," Holtby said. "It was outstanding tonight and we're going to need that to keep moving forward."
Holtby's assist was the second of his career and first since March 15, 2011 at Montreal ... Washington has won four straight against Florida ... The Capitals went 1-for-2 on the power play, while Florida finished 0-for-2 ... These teams will meet again on Tuesday in Florida.