for this game

Southeast still up for grabs as Capitals top Panthers

Apr 6, 2012 - 3:15 AM
Washington, DC (Sports Network) - The Southeast Division is still up for grabs after the Washington Capitals beat the Florida Panthers, 4-2, on Thursday night.

But both teams came out of the game happy due to the final score in Philadelphia. The Flyers took down the Sabres by a 2-1 margin to give Washington and Florida each a spot in the postseason.

The Southeast Division will be decided on Saturday. The Panthers will take a two-point lead into Saturday's game against Carolina. The Capitals, who sit eighth in the Eastern Conference with 90 points, will end the regular season at the New York Rangers. Florida will need just one point against the Hurricanes to win their first-ever division crown. However, Washington holds the tiebreaker over the Panthers.

Brooks Laich had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who have won three of four. Alex Ovechkin, Jay Beagle and Alexander Semin also lit the lamp.

"You always want to go in the playoffs winning your last game," Beagle said. "We need to go in there [New York] and play our game like we did tonight."

The news was not all good for the home team. Starting goaltender Michal Neuvirth stopped all 13 shots he faced before leaving early in the second period with an apparent left leg injury. Braden Holtby turned aside 12-of-14 shots in relief.

Mikael Samuelsson and Ed Jovanovski scored for the Panthers, who have secured a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2000.

Jose Theodore stopped 19-of-23 shots in defeat.

"This team is full of character and we're proud to have brought the Panthers organization back to the playoffs," said Florida general manager Dale Tallon. "Despite some of the adversity that we faced this year, the coaching staff and players on this team showed their determination to win and accomplish one of our main objectives - qualifying for postseason play."

Washington's offense got going at the 5:42 mark of the first period. Beagle put home a rebound off Troy Brouwer's shot to make it 1-0.

The Capitals scored a pair of goals in a two-minute span in the middle stanza. First, Ovechkin jammed home a rebound at the 7:49 mark. Laich followed with a shot from the left circle that beat Theodore for a 3-0 lead.

Theodore was briefly replaced between the pipes by Scott Clemmensen. After a talk on the bench, Theodore returned to the game.

Samuelsson finally got Florida on the board with 4:19 to go in the second. His shot from the middle of the left circle got past Holtby, who took over for an injured Neuvirth.

The Panthers made things interesting just 42 seconds into the third. Jovanovski caught the puck with his glove before firing a shot on net from the high slot. The disc hit off a stick and got past Holtby to make it 3-2.

Semin essentially put the game away with 1:02 to play, as his backhander beat Theodore.

Game Notes

The Capitals took four of six from the Panthers this season...This will be the fifth consecutive trip to the playoffs for the Capitals...Florida went 17-17-7 on the road this season, while Washington ended with a 26-11-4 record at home...Florida has lost five straight and eight of its past nine. The Panthers, who joined the NHL as an expansion club in 1993-94, have now made the playoffs four times in franchise history.