The Florida Panthers and the Washington Capitals met in a Southeastern Conference matchup tonight that was one of the most important games of the year to this point. The Panthers were without their star forward Kris Versteeg (flu), and the Capitals were missing their top forward Alexander Ovechkin as he sat out the last game of his three game suspension. The first period had some good chances for each team but the goaltenders, Scott Clemmensen for Florida and Michal Neuvirth for Washington kept the game scoreless. The Panthers had the only power play opportunity, but didn’t convert.
The second period started out much differently as Mikael Samuelsson scored on a causal long wrister from just outside the blue line that seemed to catch Neuvirth off guard, giving the Panthers the lead. It was Sammy’s fourth of the season. The Panthers had a chance to take a two goal lead with a power play opportunity when Ex-Panther Dennis Wideman was called for delay of game, but once again were unable to convert. Later while the teams skated four on four, Brooks Laich went top shelf on Clemmensen to tie the game at one. Later in the period, Scott Clemmensen made crucial save on Troy Brouwer as the Ex-Blackhawk skated in with a breakaway chance.
In the third, with their third crack at the man advantage, the Panthers took the lead as Mikael Samuelsson scored his second of the game and fifth of the season on a wrist shot that found it’s way past Neuvirth. Almost immediately afterwards Krys Barch was sent to the penalty box for a goaltender interference infraction, but the Panthers controlled the play for most of the two mintues, as Washington was unable to mount any pressure. Then things became interesting as Stephen Weiss literally used his body to score a goal as he was toppling over Neuvirth. The original call on the ice was no goal,but after what seemed like a 30 minute review, the boys in the war room in Toronto allowed it, and that gave the Panthers a huge two goal advantage. But of course we can’t do things the easy way as Capitals defenceman John Carlson scored on a slapshot that got past a partially screened Scott Clemmensen with just over two minutes remaining. But Shawn Matthias iced the game with his 9th goal of the season into an empty net.
An outstanding finish to a game that the Panthers needed to win. Back in first place in the division, and back in third place in the conference.
Here’s your TSN Boxscore.
Good night, see you here Friday against the Winnipeg Jets. Make sure to stop by Capitals Outsider.
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