- Associated Press - Friday, February 28, 2014

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) - Alex Ovechkin rebounded from his Olympic disappointment.

In the first game back since the break, Ovechkin scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and had two assists, and Troy Brouwer had two power-play goals, lifting the Washington Capitals to a 5-4 victory over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich also tallied for the Capitals and Braden Holtby made 30 saves. Backstrom and Laich each had two assists.

Russia was eliminated by Finland in the quarterfinals at the Sochi Games, where Ovechkin had only one goal and one assist.

Brad Boyes scored twice for Florida, and Drew Shore and Tomas Fleischmann also had goals. Tim Thomas stopped 27 shots.

Ovechkin broke a 4-all tie in the third period when he took a pass from Laich on the right side and sent a one-timer past Thomas at 15:43 for his 41st goal.

“I think we had a pretty good game, but a couple of mistakes, a couple of turnovers almost cost us points,” Ovechkin said. “But it’s good we bounced back and finished.”

Ovechkin’s goal came just 16 seconds after a great save by Thomas with 4:43 left in the game. Mike Green came in on a breakaway on Thomas, who slipped backward into the crease and stretched out his glove into the net as he fell. Green’s shot went right into Thomas’s glove as he was flat on his back.

“I just caught a rut on the ice or something but it turned into a really nice highlight reel save,” Thomas said. “I had to make the save because I look like an idiot.”

Thomas‘ save might have turned the momentum toward Florida but Ovechkin spoiled the effort.

“We tied it up, we were fortunate enough for me to make that save, but (after) that type of save, the last thing you want to give up is a two-on-one,” Thomas said.

The Capitals beat the Panthers for the ninth time in 10 meetings. Florida lost for the sixth time in seven games.

For Ovechkin, looking forward might be the best way to handle the disappointment, and this game was a good start.

“It’s always important when you score goals because you’re going to feel great the next day and the next game,” Ovechkin said.

The Panthers rallied twice from two-goal deficits but it wasn’t enough to stop the Capitals.

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