Verhaege scores 2 goals, Panthers beat Capitals 5-2

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Carter Verhaeghe scored twice in the final minutes and the Florida Panthers beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 on Tuesday night.

Verhaeghe, who had six goals and 12 points in Florida's six-game playoff series win over Washington last spring, scored on a loose puck to give the Panthers a two-goal lead with 3 minutes remaining before scoring into an empty net with 1:24 left.

Florida also got goals from Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart and Nick Cousins, while Sergei Bobrovsky made 40 saves for his first win since Nov. 3.

Dylan Strome and John Carlson scored for Washington.

Florida improved to 5-1-1 at home and is on a 16-2-1 regular-season run in Sunrise dating to last season.

Bobrovsky, making his first start since Nov. 5 at Los Angeles, only faced nine shots in the opening period before the Capitals started to warm up.

Barkov gave the Panthers the initial lead, blasting a shot past Darcy Kuemper (40 saves) from the high slot. It was Barkov’s fourth goal of the season and first not on a power play.

Reinhart got a power-play goal for the Panthers — their eighth in the past nine games — by batting a shot by Aaron Ekblad out of the air.

Matthew Tkachuk recorded his 400th career point with the secondary assist on the goal.

Holding a 2-1 lead going into the third, Cousins gave Florida some breathing room by snaring a pass from Gustav Forsling and driving around Kuemper, scoring as he lost his footing at 7:02 of the period.

Carlson brought the Capitals within a goal by driving between two defenders and knocking in a shot from Erik Gustafsson past Bobrovsky.

Washington went 0-2 on this trip to Florida, getting outscored 10-3 by the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.

NOTES: Florida coach Paul Maurice was behind the bench for his 1,700th NHL regular-season game, which ranks fourth all-time. Maurice, 55, coached in his first game on Nov. 7, 1995 with the Hartford Whalers. He has coached the Whalers/Hurricanes (twice), Maple Leafs, Jets and Panthers. He passed Al Arbour for sixth all-time in victories with No. 783 last Wednesday against Carolina. ... Peter Laviolette was back behind the Washington bench following a two-game absence after testing positive for COVID-19. Assistant Kevin McCarthy coached the team in its two games against Tampa Bay. ... Forwards Connor McMichael and Nicolas Aube-Kubel as well as defenseman Alexander Alexeyev were healthy scratches for the Capitals.


Capitals: Visit St. Louis on Thursday night.

Panthers: Host Dallas on Thursday night.


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The Associated Press