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Panthers take first in Southeast by clipping Caps

Feb 2, 2012 - 5:01 AM Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Mikael Samuelsson tallied twice and Shawn Matthias provided a late insurance goal as Florida doubled up Washington, 4-2, in a battle for Southeast Division supremacy.

Stephen Weiss added a goal and Tomas Fleischmann totaled two assists for the Panthers, who vaulted into first place by one point over the Caps thanks to their second win in three games.

Scott Clemmensen made 26 saves in the victory.

"We had to shake off that rust," Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen said of his club gaining an extra day of rest from the All-Star break. We had to make sure with the extra day of practice that we had that we come out with lots of energy and good execution."

Brooks Laich and John Carlson tallied for the Capitals, who have dropped four of their last five.

Michal Neuvirth allowed three goals on 37 shots for the loss.

Florida went up 2-1 with 4:57 gone in the third on a power play as Samuelsson's harmless wrister from the point sailed past an unscreened Neuvirth.

It was 3-1 just prior to the midway point on a reviewed goal. Tomas Kopecky's chance from the right side of the crease was turned aside, but the rebound was cleared into mid-air, where it caromed in off Weiss' shoulder as he skated into Neuvirth inside the crease.

Though the initial call was no goal, a replay determined there was no intentional motion to direct the puck with his shoulder, nor was there a case for interference.

Though Carlson's blast from between the circles pulled Washington to 3-2 with 2:21 on the clock, Matthias hit the empty net with 53 seconds remaining.

"I thought we played hard. You don't like to lose like this," said Capitals head coach Dale Hunter. "We were in the game, but it's one of those things where you don't get the breaks you want."

Samuelsson put the hosts on the board at the 33-second mark of the second period when his wrister from center ice clanged off the left post and past Neuvirth.

Laich countered during a 4-on-4, lifting a shot from the left circle home at 11:15.

Game Notes

Florida has won three in a row and four of five on home ice against Washington...The Panthers won despite the absence of forward Kris Versteeg, sidelined with the flu...Samuelsson recorded his first multi-goal effort since February 12, 2011 against Calgary while skating for the Canucks...Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin served the last of his three-game suspension.