SUNRISE, Fla. - Alexander Ovechkin has scored many highlight reel-worthy goals in his career.
His go-ahead goal from a severe angle that gave the Washington Capitals a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night was not one of them.
Ovechkin scored his 20th of the season, while standing parallel to the Florida goal. He fired the puck toward goalie Tomas Vokoun, who watched it deflect into the net.
"It was a lucky goal," Ovechkin said. "I was trying to shoot the puck to create a rebound for (Viktor) Kozlov, but it was a lucky rebound and went into the net."
Brent Johnson stopped 24 shots and Brian Pothier also scored for Washington, which lost its first three games against Florida this season by a total of three goals. The Capitals also snapped a three-game skid overall.
"It's really nice to return the favour," Johnson said of the one-goal victory. "We have been the stronger team a couple of nights, but it's a matter of getting bounces. Tonight we got them."
Branislav Mezei scored for Florida, which lost its second straight - both at home - following a season-high four-game winning streak. Vokoun stopped 41 shots but gave up two soft goals. He was 5-1 in his previous six games.
"I still can't believe it," Vokoun said. "It's how we lose that's bothering me. We got outplayed and outhustled. We're professionals and we have to be held accountable."
Soft goals aside, the Panthers stayed in the game thanks to their goalie.
"Vokoun gave us a chance," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "You score early in the third, you're tied, and then you give them a goal. That's not good enough."
Ovechkin's goal gave Washington a 2-1 lead at 4:38 of the third period. Ovechkin stood even with the Florida net, about halfway between the left corner and the goal. He sent the puck toward Vokoun, and the puck hit the goalie before going into the goal.
"It's about time something good happened," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "How many chances did we have where Vokoun stoned us? We needed a break."
Johnson made several fine stops, with his best being a glove save on a point-blank shot by Nathan Horton with just more than six minutes left in the second period.
"We weren't ready to play and that's frustrating," Florida's Bryan Allen said. "Every player on this team has to find this unacceptable. We have to be better and step it up."
Mezei scored his first goal to tie it one-all at 2:49 of the third. Olli Jokinen won a faceoff by directing the puck back to the left point, where Mezei fired a wrist shot past Johnson's high glove side.
Pothier's second goal of the season gave Washington the lead 3:53 into the first. His shot from the right point hit Vokoun's pads before bouncing over and into the net.
"They played most of the game in our end because they worked harder," Jokinen said.
Notes: - It was the fourth meeting in 17 days for the Southeast Division rivals. ... Ovechkin also assisted on Pothier's goal.