Cats edge the Caps 5-4 Monday in south FloridaPosted on December 06, 2011
In a battle of the top two teams in the Southeast Division Monday night, the Florida Panthers increased its lead to seven points with a x-x win over the Capitals at Bank Atlantic Center. Florida was off and running Monday with a goal from Stephen Weiss, his 10th of the season. Former Washington winger Tomas Fleischmann provided a screen in front, as Brian Campbell and Dmitry Kulikov assisted at 6:50. 13 seconds later, Mike Santorelli found the net for this fourth of the campaign from Kulikov and Mike Weaver. The goal at 7:03 made the score 2-0. Weiss picked up his tally on the power play, while Santorelli's came at even strength. Florida increased the lead to 3-0 when Kulikov scored from the right circle for his third goal of the year and his third point of the night. Mike Knuble did manage to get one back from the Caps before intermission, punching through his third goal of the year, from Marcus Johansson and Dmitry Orlov. The Panthers put 11 pucks on Michal Neuvirth in the first period, while Scott Clemmensen stopped eight of nine. The Panthers continued to put up goals on the power play in the second period, with Sean Bergenheim popping home his fourth goal of the season on a wrap-around to make the score 4-1 at the 3:41 mark. Stephen Weiss made it 5-1 with a shot from the right circle at 12:11, but the Capitals would get one back before intermission. Cody Eakin scored on a right circle shot from Mathieu Perreault, with Mike Knuble providing a nice screen in front. Florida held a 24-19 shot edge at the end of two, and a 5-2 lead. The Capitals posed a stirring comeback in the third period, scoring twice. Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera made it close, but the Panthers would hang on a final score of 5-4. The Capitals will stay overnight Monday in south Florida and practice at Bank Atlantic Center Tuesday before departing for Ottawa. Washington will square off with the Senators Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m., with a 6:45 p.m. airtime on the Capitals Radio Network. The start for Neuvirth marked his second consecutive start, while Clemmensen played in just his third game of the season behind Jose Theodore. Defenseman Roman Hamrlik missed the game due to injury, and is listed as day-to-day. Alexander Semin also missed his second consecutive game. Florida and Washington will not play again until February 1 at Bank Atlantic Center. The Panthers will visit Verizon Center next on February 7. The NHL announced plans to create four new conferences for the 2012-13 season. Washington will be grouped with Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, the Rangers, Islanders and Devils, as well as the Carolina Hurricanes. Multiple reports have the first two rounds of the postseason within the conference.