Takeaways as Ryan Lomberg’s late goal lifts Florida Panthers past Washington Capitals

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The moment had been a long time coming for Ryan Lomberg. The Florida Panthers’ forward, an enforcer whose game centers on his physicality moreso than his offensive production, had gone 35 games without a goal. In that nearly two month stretch, he also only had one assist.

On Thursday, that extended streak came to an end in probably the biggest way possible.

Lomberg scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period to lead the Panthers to a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Thursday at Amerant Bank Arena.

Florida improves to 32-15-4, while Washington falls to 22-20-7.

“The big boys have been doing most of the pulling all year,” Lomberg said. “To have some depth scoring for our team is a great thing.”

Lomberg’s goal, just his third of the season, came with 5:32 left in regulation. Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov sent a pass to Lomberg in the slot, and Lomberg fired a quick wrist shot that got past Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper. The goal was Lomberg’s first game-winning goal of the season and the third of his NHL career.

It was the reward for a dominant effort by Florida’s fourth line of Jonah Gadjovich, Kevin Stenlund and Lomberg. According to the advanced hockey statistics website Natural Stat Trick, the Panthers held an 18-2 edge in shot attempts, 10-0 in shots on goal and 11-0 in scoring chances in 7:01 when the fourth line was on the ice. This included several shifts going up against Washington’s top line of Alex Ovechkin, Dylan Strome and Tom Wilson.

“It was coming for that line,” said Panthers star winger Matthew Tkachuk, who had a three-point night. “They were playing amazing for us and that was very timely of them. They’ve been working so hard and getting so many chances that it was gonna go in sooner rather than later. I’m just so happy they could get rewarded because they do so much that maybe doesn’t come on the scoresheet that’s so important for our team.”

Added coach Paul Maurice about Florida’s fourth line: “All of them had such a strong impact in the game. There’s leadership in a lot of different ways, but that line led in terms of style of play. Their forecheck was really good and heavy, but they didn’t cheat for it. They didn’t get in behind the puck. They didn’t give up anything to be as aggressive as they were on the forecheck. ... That line drove the bus.”

Eetu Luostarinen then sealed the game with an empty net goal with less than a minute left in regulation.

Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart scored Florida’s other goals, both of which tied the game and both of which were deflections at the net in the second period. Tkachuk’s goal 4:29 into the middle frame came when he redirected a Gustav Forsling shot from the point. Reinhart deflected in a Tkachuk shot from the blue line on the power play.

Ovechkin and Anthony Mantha scored for Washington.

The Panthers cap their three-game homestand on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) looks up at a shot on goal during the first period of a hockey game on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Fla.
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (72) looks up at a shot on goal during the first period of a hockey game on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Fla.

Sergei Bobrovsky impresses

Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 21 of 23 shots he faced to improve to 24-10-2 on the season.

But perhaps most important was Bobrovsky stopping Beck Malenstyn on a penalty shot attempt midway through the first period.

Bobrovsky has won 11 of his last 15 starts.

Reinhart’s power-play prowess continues

Reinhart’s second-period goal was his NHL-leading 21st on the power play.

Overall, Reinhart has 38 goals on the season, second in the NHL to Toronto’s Auston Matthews.

The Panthers have scored power play goals in six consecutive games.

Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) celebrates his goal with a fist bump with defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) during the second period of a hockey game on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Fla.
Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) celebrates his goal with a fist bump with defenseman Aaron Ekblad (5) during the second period of a hockey game on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, at Amerant Bank Arena in Sunrise, Fla.

Another multi-point effort for Matthew Tkachuk

With his first-period goal and assists on Reinhart’s second-period power-play goal and Luostarinen’s empty-net goal, Thursday was Tkachuk’s ninth multi-point effort in his past 19 games. He has 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) in that span.

Prior to this stretch, which began on Dec. 23, Tkachuk had just six multi-point games in the Panthers’ first 32 games.

On the season, Tkachuk has 54 points through 51 games played.