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Kozlov, Huet help Capitals top Panthers

Mar 30, 2008 - 3:50 AM
SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- Viktor Kozlov helped the Washington Capitals keep alive their postseason hopes and end those of his former team.

Kozlov scored a goal and set up two others and Cristobal Huet made 32 saves as the Capitals posted a 3-0 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

All-Star Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist and defenseman Mike Green added a second-period tally for Washington (40-31-8), which climbed within two points of Carolina (42-31-6) for first place in the Southeast Division. The Hurricanes skated to a 2-1 triumph over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

The Capitals also are within two points of the Boston Bruins (40-28-10) for the eighth and final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference.

"I thought our goaltender and defense played extremely well," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "We absolutely knew we couldn't afford to lose."

Huet turned aside six shots in the first period, 14 in the second and 12 in the third en route to his fourth shutout of the season and third for the Capitals since being acquired from Montreal on February 26. It was the 17th blanking of the Frenchman's career.

"They're a team that likes to shoot the puck a lot," Huet said of the Panthers. "It was challenging out there, but the guys did a good job in front of me."

"Huet had to make some dazzling saves, but it was about the team," Boudreau said. "The players were saying, 'Let's go for it and let Cris make the saves.'"

A former Panther, Kozlov snapped a scoreless tie early in the second period, giving Huet all the support he needed.

After Brooke Laich gained possession of the puck along the boards, he fed Kozlov in the high slot for a one-timer that beat goaltender Tomas Vokoun to the glove side at 2:48 for a 1-0 lead. It was Kozlov's 16th goal of the season and third against Florida.

"Koz was terrific tonight. He had the stick on the puck the entire game," Boudreau said.

Later in the period, Washington struck again when Green easily converted a perfect pass from Ovechkin across the front of the crease for his 18th goal. The tally tied Green with Chicago's Dustin Byfuglien for the most by a defenseman in the NHL.

"You just want to shoot the puck and finish it off," Green said. "As long as we have a chance, it's to our advantage to keep winning."

Ovechkin - who leads the league with with 109 points, tallied with 8:28 left in the final period - when he gathered the rebound off Kozlov's shot, spun to his left and wristed the puck past Vokoun for his league-leading 62nd goal of 2007-08.

Vokoun made 30 saves for Florida, which mathematically was eliminated from the playoffs for the seventh straight season.

"I think our team, talent-wise, is definitely good enough to be in the playoffs," Vokoun said. "There has to be a reason why we are not in there. I think it's our consistency."

Florida coach Jacques Martin said not making the playoffs is very discouraging.

"No doubt, it's disappointing," Martin said. "We went into this season feeling we had a realistic shot, but our play has just not been good enough."

According to Panthers center Stephen Weiss, the season seems a waste when missing the playoffs.

"It doesn't feel very good," Weiss said. "You put a lot of work into it throughout the year, and when you miss the playoffs and not have an opportunity at the Stanley Cup, it's disappointing."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 0 2 1 3
    FLORIDA 0 0 0 0 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 16 (BROOKS LAICH, TOM POTI) 2:48
    WAS - MIKE GREEN 18 (ALEX OVECHKIN, VIKTOR KOZLOV) 14:42
    3RD PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 62 (VIKTOR KOZLOV, TOM POTI) 11:32
    POWER-PLAY CONVERSIONS: WAS -

    Mar 29 9:25 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 3
    FLORIDA 0
    3RD PRD: WAS - ALEX OVECHKIN 62 (VIKTOR KOZLOV, TOM POTI) 11:32

    Capitals 3, Panthers 0  3rd - 8:28Mar 29 9:13 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 0 2 2
    FLORIDA 0 0 0 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    2ND PRD: WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 16 (BROOKS LAICH, TOM POTI) 2:48
    WAS - MIKE GREEN 18 (ALEX OVECHKIN, VIKTOR KOZLOV) 14:42
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WAS 10 11

    Mar 29 8:35 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 2
    FLORIDA 0
    2ND PRD: WAS - MIKE GREEN 18 (ALEX OVECHKIN, VIKTOR KOZLOV) 14:42

    Capitals 2, Panthers 0  2nd - 5:18Mar 29 8:26 PM


  • NHL
    WASHINGTON 1
    FLORIDA 0
    2ND PRD: WAS - VIKTOR KOZLOV 16 (BROOKS LAICH, TOM POTI) 2:48

    Capitals 1, Panthers 0  2nd - 17:12Mar 29 8:06 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WASHINGTON 0 0
    FLORIDA 0 0 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: NONE
    SHOTS ON GOAL: 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    WAS 10 10
    FLA 6 6
    GOALIES: WAS - CRISTOBAL HUET
    FLA - TOMAS VOKOUN

    Mar 29 7:43 PM
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