(SportsNetwork.com) - After picking up a victory in the 2015 Winter Classic, the Washington Capitals return indoors trying to extend their success against Sunday afternoon's opponent, the Florida Panthers.
The Caps won for the fifth time in seven games on Thursday as they bested the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 at Nationals Park. They won the game in regulation on Troy Brouwer's power-play goal with 12.9 seconds left on the clock in the third period.
Following a penalty to Chicago's Jonathan Toews, Alex Ovechkin brought the puck into the Blackhawks zone but saw his stick break at the left circle. Brouwer was there to collect the loose puck for a turnaround shot that beat netminder Corey Crawford.
"When I saw the puck laying at his feet when he broke his stick, somebody had to try to keep alive," said Brouwer. "So I turned around, threw it to the net. I'm not sure where it even went in, but I heard the noise of the crowd, heard the noise of the guys on the ice, and it was one of those where you know the time, you know the score, and you're just trying to get a puck on net, and thankfully it went in."
Braden Holtby then sealed the victory with a tough save on a Patrick Kane shot -- his 33rd of the game -- just before time expired to give the Capitals their second victory in the New Year's Day event.
Ovechkin finished the game with a goal and an assist, while Eric Fehr also lit the lamp for the Capitals.
"The whole day was unbelievable," said Ovechkin. "It has been outstanding."
Washington may also enjoy a visit from Florida. The Capitals are 10-0-2 in their past 12 games versus the Panthers and have taken nine in a row at home in this series.
The Caps have not lost at home to the Panthers since Dec. 9, 2010.
Holtby is likely to make his 15th straight start and is an excellent 6-0-1 versus Florida with a 2.40 goals against average and .918 save percentage in seven games, including six starts.
The Panthers won the opener of a six-game road trip on Friday as they topped the Buffalo Sabres 2-0. Roberto Luongo picked up his second shutout of the season and 68th of his career, passing Roy Worters for 13th place on the NHL's all-time list.
"It takes a team effort to pitch a shutout," Luongo said. "It's one of those things where sometimes you feel comfortable."
Brad Boyes and Nick Bjugstad, signed to a six-year extension on Wednesday, each scored as Florida moved to 8-3-3 in its past 14 games. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad had an assist to match a franchise scoring record for a rookie blueliner with 21 points.
Forwards Tomas Kopecky and Tomas Fleischmann both missed the game with undisclosed injuries, with Kopecky sitting out his third in a row. Defenseman Erik Gudbranson also was unable to play because of an upper-body ailment.
Luongo is 20-10-0 in his career versus the Capitals with a 2.25 GAA and .928 save percentage.