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Caps' focus on getting 'dirty' goals pays off in win over Florida

Caps' focus on getting 'dirty' goals pays off in win over Florida

After two periods Saturday against the Florida Panthers, it looked like the Caps could be in trouble. The score was tied 1-1, but Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo was in the zone.

Luongo already had 23 saves including 17 in the second period alone. He had flashed his lightning quick glove to deny Alex Ovechkin and stopped both Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson right on the doorstep.

"It was one of those games where I'm thinking to myself, we only got one goal out of all that?" head coach Barry Trotz said. "I thought [Luongo] was really, really good, but I like our response."

What was their response? The Capitals, one of the most skilled teams in the NHL, got dirty. When they couldn't beat Luongo on the beautiful setups, they beat him with net-front presence and deflections.

RELATED: Third period flurry lifts Caps over Panthers

Down 2-1 in the third, Alex Ovechkin finally managed to get one past the Florida netminder and it wasn't one of his patented rushes or slap shots, it was a simple tip-in of a Brooks Orpik shot.

"It took a tip-in goal to kind of open the floodgates so to speak," T.J. Oshie said. "He still made some good saves after that, but sometimes you've got to find different ways just to score."

From there, the dam burst. Luongo, who had been brilliant all night, allowed three goals on five shots. After Oshie put the Caps ahead with his second goal of the night, Lars Eller added the exclamation point.

Eller went to the front of the net and attempted a deflection on a shot by Andre Burakovsky. Instead, the puck ended up on his stick. Behind the defense, Eller was able to beat Luongo from up close to make it 4-2.

"That was something that we wanted to add to our game," Trotz said, "And you're seeing Ovi who, for instance, is more of a off the rush, get to a spot, he's got a few goals right in the blue paint right now earlier in the year."

"We talk about, we have to have a traffic in front of those guys," Ovechkin said. "All the goalies play well and if they see the puck they’re probably going to stop it."

Those so-called "greasy" or "dirty" goals are not something the Caps have been able to get too many of in recent years. Adding net front presence was a clear focus for this team heading into the season and Saturday's win was a glimpse of the kind of impact those goals can have on a game, especially a game in which the opposing netminder has taken over.

"When we played [Luongo] last time, I think we had two tip-in goals to find a win," Oshie said. "Great goaltender, you've got to get screens and you've got to touch some pucks before they hit him."

Trotz put the team's new philosophy succinctly after the game saying, "We always harp, no sense shooting if there's no one there."

MORE CAPITALS: LARS ELLER ON CAPS 4-2 WIN OVER FLORIDA

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Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Panthers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Panthers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

The Capitals (34-19-7) take on the Panthers (26-25-6) Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Florida.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Panthers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Panthers
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Panthers game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-PANTHERS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Team USA reclaims women's hockey gold from Canada in instant Olympic classic

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Team USA reclaims women's hockey gold from Canada in instant Olympic classic

GANGNEUNG, South Korea  -- The Americans' gold medal drought in women's hockey -- finally -- is over.

Even though they needed the first shootout in an Olympic women's final to do it.

Twenty long years after taking gold when the sport debuted in 1998 at Nagano, the United States snapped Canada's streak of four straight Olympic golds Thursday with a 3-2 shootout victory.

Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson scored in the sixth round of the shootout to start the Americans piling over the boards, throwing gloves in the air before huddling and hugging on the ice.

Gigi Marvin and Amanda Kessel also scored in the shootout. Monique Lamoureux-Morando tied it up with a breakaway with 6:21 left in regulation.

Hilary Knight also had a goal.

RELATED: WHICH WINTER OLYMPIANS REPRESENT THE D.M.V?

Maddie Rooney made 29 saves for the win against their archrival. The 20-year-old goalie stopped the last two Canadian shooters in the shootout in Brianne Jenner and then Meghan Agosta on her second attempt.

It was sweet redemption for the 10 Americans who watched the Canadians snatch gold from their hands in 2014 at Sochi after tying it up with 54.6 seconds left in regulation and winning 3-2 in overtime.

Not only did the Americans snap the Canadians' stranglehold on Olympic gold, they ended a skid of five straight against their rival coming into this game, including a 2-1 loss to wrap up pool play a week ago.

Marie-Philip Poulin and Haley Irwin each scored goals for Canada. Agosta and Melodie Daoust scored in the shootout.

The Americans had been dominating in non-Olympic years, winning the last four and eight of the last 10 world championships, including a 3-2 overtime victory over Canada last spring.

Their domination on the world stage only made the lack of gold at the Olympics all the more noticeable, and Canada has been in their way since losing the inaugural gold in Nagano. Canada had won 24 straight Olympic games to go along with four consecutive gold medals. It's a streak of success in a women's team sport second only to the United States' basketball team's current streak of six straight gold.

This was the eighth time these North American rivals met in the Olympics and the fifth with gold on the line. None of the previous seven were decided by more than two goals.

U.S. coach Robb Stauber went with the 20-year-old Rooney in net for the biggest game of her career, but she was the goalie for each of the three games the Americans beat Canada last fall during their pre-Olympic exhibition tour, including Four Nations Cup title in November.

Canada had Shannon Szabados, 31, in goal for her third Olympic gold medal game, and her teammates made her job very easy by keeping the puck in front of Rooney for most of the first period by dictating play. The Americans couldn't use their speed or get organized even with two power plays until Sarah Nurse went in the box for interference late in the period.

Knight gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead with 25.4 seconds left in the first, redirecting a shot from Sidney Morin through Szabados' pads giving the Americans a jolt of energy.

That lasted only 2 minutes into the second when Irwin tipped a pass from Blayre Turnbull over Rooney's left leg for Canada. When Morin lost the puck, Melodie Daoust grabbed it and passed to Meghan Agosta who hit Poulin for the wrister into the left side of the net at 6:55 for a 2-1 lead.