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Caps edge Panthers in opener of home-and-home set

Jan 9, 2011 - 4:44 AM Washington, DC (Sports Network) - Alex Ovechkin scored what proved to be the game-winner with under four minutes to play as the Washington Capitals took a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers in the front end of a home-and-home set at Verizon Center.

Mike Green, Eric Fehr and Ovechkin each had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who have won four of their last five. Semyon Varlamov stopped 25 shots in the win.

"I'm glad we got the win here today," said Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau. "When we got the lead in the third period it was a breath of fresh air. Some of our players are starting to get their confidence here."

Mike Santorelli and Evgeny Dadonov each had a goal for the Panthers, who have dropped three straight and five of seven. Scott Clemmensen made 24 saves in the defeat.

"Obviously, things weren't perfect out there today, but the effort was there," said Florida head coach Peter DeBoer. "But we're a team who was a small margin of error and if we make a few mistakes in a game we're gonna lose."

These two teams will meet in Florida on Tuesday.

With the score tied in the third, Washington was awarded a power play after Mike Frolik was called for tripping at the 11:45 mark and the team went to work.

From the slot, Fehr sent a pass over to the right circle for Green, who took a stride in and slipped a backhander home for a 2-1 lead with 6:53 left.

Ovechkin gave Washington an insurance goal with 3:55 to play when he skated down the left wing and from the circle snapped a wrister under the glove for his 15th goal of the season.

The goal proved to be fortunate as Dadonov scored with 1:37 to play and the goaltender pulled to make it a 3-2 contest.

Florida then skated with a 6-on-4 as the team continued to have Clemmensen pulled and got a power play when Nicklas Backstrom was called for cross checking, but Washington was able to kill off the clock.

Florida took the lead 3:49 into the contest. David Booth had the puck at the right circle and sent it to the left point for Dmitry Kulikov, who immediately sent it back to the low right side. Santorelli was the recipient of the puck and slipped to the front where he whipped a backhander past Varlamov.

The Capitals tied the game at the 5:32 mark of the second. Green skated with the puck behind the net from the right side and when he reached the left side he flipped the disc out front where Fehr roofed it home.

Game Notes

Florida took the only other meeting between these two clubs, a 3-0 win in Washington on December 9...Booth assisted on both of Florida's goals...Florida will begin a six-game homestand with Tuesday's contest.