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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, February 27th (All times Eastern)

Washington Capitals (27-23-9) at Florida Panthers (22-29-7), 7:30 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Olympics didn't end in a positive way for either Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom and the duo look to get refocused on Thursday night when the Washington Capitals visit the Florida Panthers.

The spotlight was bright on Ovechkin in Sochi, where he was looking to lead Team Russia to a gold medal in the Winter Games. However, the Russians were held without a medal of any kind in a disappointing effort in front of the home crowd.

Backstrom, meanwhile, was a member of the silver-medal winning Team Sweden, but was unable to play in the gold medal game after testing positive for a banned substance. A Swedish Olympic official said Backstrom's positive test came as the result of an allergy medicine he has routinely taken.

However, the test isn't expected to affect his NHL season as the league said the specific substance in Backstrom's case is not on the league's banned list.

Still, Backstrom was understandably disappointed he was not able to compete against Team Canada for the gold medal, but will now turn his full attention to getting the Capitals in the playoffs.

"We're all behind him. We know that he did the right things. It's a weird thing that happened to him; kind of a glitch in the system and very unfortunate," said Caps head coach Adam Oates.

Ovechkin also will be looking to get back into the swing of the NHL, where he leads the league with 40 goals through 55 games. That is nine more than second-place Phil Kessel of Toronto and it marks the first time Ovechkin has reached the 40-goal mark since netting 50 in 2009-10.

Ovechkin has 30 goals and 61 points in 48 career games versus the Panthers.

Washington went 5-2-1 in its final eight games before the Olympic break and sits three points out of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Caps are expected to have defenseman Mike Green (concussion) and forward Mikhail Grabovski (sprained left ankle) in their first game back from the break.

Braden Holtby could get the start in net and has won all five of his career appearances versus the Panthers while posting a 2.40 goals against average and one shutout.

The Panthers come in 15 points out of a wild card spot and having lost six of their last eight. They also suffered a blow during the hiatus when Aleksander Barkov suffered a knee injury while playing for Finland. The 18-year-old second-overall pick of the most recent draft has eight goals and 24 points in 54 games this season, but is out indefinitely.

Center Drew Shore was recalled from the minors to replace Barkov in the lineup.

The Panthers are likely to turn to Tim Thomas in net tonight and he is 14-5-3 with a 2.46 GAA in his career versus the Capitals.

These former division rivals have split a pair of meetings this season, with each club winning a shootout on home ice.

The Capitals had won eight in a row in this series before a 3-2 loss in Florida on Dec. 13.

02/27 10:36:43 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
Final
NYR 1
CAR 0
 
Final
TOR 118
NYK 108
Final
CLE 105
MEM 91
Final
MIA 100
BOS 84
Final
BRK 110
DET 105
Final
SAC 108
LAL 101
Final
ORL 88
PHI 96
Final
WAS 92
PHO 104
Final
MIN 96
IND 100
Final
OKC 99
NOP 101
Final
UVA 76
HARV 27
Final
BGU 68
FERST 82
 
Final
ARMY 72
MAINE 69
 
Final
QUIN 60
ORST 52
Final
CLST 69
USF 65
 
Final
CARK 55
CCAR 72
 
Final
UWGB 66
ARKLR 46
 
Final
RAD 74
CORN 61
 
Final
UNT 62
CREI 58
Final
CAN 67
HC 48
 
Final
USB 67
GHND 52
 
Final
OKST 64
MD 73
Final
WINT 100
REIN 72
 
Final
UGST 68
SMISS 55
Final
NEOM 77
TXPA 72
 
Final
STLU 58
VERM 55
 
Final
UNCA 62
WCU 66
 
Final
EVAN 81
ALAST 63
 
Final
HART 82
FIU 69
 
Final
VALPO 82
GOSHEN 55
 
Final
LIP 69
PEAY 63
 
Final
DEN 46
BRY 48
 
Final
MONT 62
SD 67
 
Final
MTST 65
TENST 47
Final
SAMF 64
LAMON 50
 
Final
SCAR 78
COKR 52
 
Final
HAMP 75
NARZ 66
 
Final
SDU 71
SDCHR 61
 
Final
BC 71
USC 75
Final
NICST 64
TROY 65
 
Final
BRAD 47
UCI 55
 
Final
UGA 65
SHU 47
Final
ALA 60
APP 59
Final
KSU 53
NDST 52
 
Final
WASU 82
SJST 53
1st
UTEP 28
ALCOR 9
 
10:00pm Tonight
SEAT
SACST
 
Final
DET 1
COL 2
Final
EDM 5
DAL 6
Final
BOS 4
BUF 3
Final
NYR 1
CAR 0
 
Final
CHI 4
TOR 0
1st Intermission
WIN 2
PHI 1
 
Final
NOS 14
ATL 30
Final
HOU 25
BAL 13
Final
CAR 17
CLE 13
Final
CHI 14
DET 20
Final
TAM 3
GBP 20
Final
PIT 20
KAN 12
Final
MIA 37
MIN 35
Final
NYJ 16
NEP 17
Final
STL 27
NYG 37
Final
OAK 26
BUF 24
Final
DAL 42
IND 7
2nd
ARI 3
SEA 14