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Tomas Vokoun Stops 42 Shots as Capitals Drop Panthers Back to Ninth with 4-0 Win ... Caps up 3-0 Early in 2nd, Win Laugher

WASHINGTON – Capitals coach Dale Hunter said if a regular season game should be treated like the postseason, well, Tuesday's game was the one to do it. 

Panthers coach Kevin Dineen added that his veteran players “can count, look at the paper and know what the deal is'' when looking at the division and conference standings. 

One team got the message on Tuesday – and it wasn't the Panthers. 

Florida don't have a spot in the playoffs right now after Washington ran away with a 4-0 win at Verizon Center. The Capitals took a one point lead on the Panthers in the Southeast Division as Florida lost its second straight and fell to ninth place in the Eastern Conference. 

The Panthers have been outscored 10-3 in losses at Tampa Bay and Washington. 

“We got beat by the better team,'' Dineen said postgame. “They were the better team and we need to recognize that, fess up and know our game has to improve as we move forward. .-.-.

"What are you going to do? I don't think anyone feels sorry for us. This is NHL hockey. It's the best league in the world. You have to understand that when you get a good tail kicking, you recognize it and get better for the next one.''

The way the east is looking, the runner-up in the Southeast Division is probably going to be outside the playoffs. By the way the Panthers have played their past two games, that doesn't bode well for Florida's hope to end a NHL-record 10 seasons outside the playoffs.

Florida is two points back of Ottawa for the eighth and final postseason spot and have played three fewer games. 

“I can't see why anyone's confidence wouldn't be there,'' Kris Versteeg said. “We were still clawing in this one for a while.''

Washington, which had lost five of seven coming in, took control from the start as Mathieu Parreault snapped a shot past Scott Clemmensen a mere 13 seconds into the game. Alex Ovechkin made it 2-0 after scoring on a breakaway with Marcel Goc in the penalty box midway through the period. 

Florida had a number of scoring chances in the first – including John Madden missing an empty net and Tomas Vokoun stopping Shawn Matthias on a breakaway. But the Panthers failed to find a way to beat their former goalie as Vokoun is now 2-0 against the Panthers since leaving the team as a free agent in July. 

The Capitals made it 3-0 when Jason Chimera tapped a loose puck into the net early in the second while Florida was on a power play chance. Ovechkin, who was suspended for Florida's 4-2 win in Sunrise last Wednesday, scored midway through the second to end Washington's scoring.

The Panthers took 42 shots at Vokoun as he shutout the Cats for the second time this season. 

“It was a big game and obviously they were ahead of us,'' said Vokoun, who has four shutouts this season and 48 in his career. “It was a very desperate situation, but we came out great, scored a goal 13 seconds in and that was big – especially at home, get the fans going.

"We have a great first period. They get a lot of shots, but we were able to score a few goals, and it's a little easier to play when you know you're not so pressed about making a mistake and you have a few goals in the bank.''

() With the Panthers being delayed coming out of Fort Lauderdale by more than two hours on Monday, it was probably a good idea that Dineen left goalie Jose Theodore at home. 

Theodore, who has been doing on-ice workouts, didn't have to hang out on the team charter as it sat near the runway while mechanics and technicians worked on the plane. 

Dineen said Theodore was to skate in South Florida on Tuesday and should be on the ice Wednesday whether or not the Panthers hold a practice session.

Theodore suffered a minor knee injury after being run over by teammate Dmitry Kulikov and Montreal's Mike Blunden on Dec. 31. Theodore returned to play in two games last month but has been out since. 

The Panthers would like to have Theodore back for this weekend's back-to-back series against the host Devils and Islanders. 

“He's getting close, but if he wasn't going to play [Tuesday], he was better off staying at home,'' Dineen said. “We had a bit of a tough day, some technical difficulties with the plane. That happens.''

Comments

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This team is falling apart. They need to get rid of Weiss and start unloading some players.

Wow clemmer didn't even give the team a chance .. That's why he has been a back up goalie his whole life .. Dinner should of put foster in why kin of coaching is that??? Matthias misses open net madden misses open net Weiss had no handle on his one timers .. Do these cats not get it 10 years out of playoffs ??? The league steps up a notch now guys diners should be telling that to them but he hopes they read the paper DUH your they coach maybe they need to here it from you bud god

your right clemmer sucks, weiss and garrison cant hit the net...dineen thinks the news paper will do his coaching for him??? if we keep losing i say we finally sell weiss and gets getzlaf as are center, and tallon should of got nittimaki off waiver a week ago

Same old same old. The last two were carbon copies of all the boring, miserable games we've had to endure over the past ten years. I feel sorry for Versteeg who is probably (and, sadly, this says a lot) the most exciting player the Panthers have had since Bure. Maybe they should lace up Yormack The Grifter with all the fancy moves he made eluding reporters after his absurd testimony of how the county would benefit from his Club Red scheme. Goldie, I understand who butters your bread, but after all the softballs you tossed last night, a career with the Raybesto Brakettes (look it up sports fans) may be in your future. There's no question that the future of the Panthers in April includes a lot of golf. Eleven years and counting folks.

BOOOOOOOOOOO!

Good as of late:
Mathias, Bergenheim, Gudbranson

Bad as of late:
Clemmenson, Top line, Fleischman (bad enough to get second mention)

Disappeared:
Goc, Kopecky, everyone else


So, heres the plan: keep fans' hopes up, in order to sell season tickets, even throw in another "playoffs or bust guarantee". Fail and miss playoffs again.

No choice but to hang on to huge contracts, get some prospects up into the NHL finally. Put franchise hopes into unproven youth (with lots of talent).

We'll see next year. Best news I can see happening sooner, is another Tallon-filled headline day come trade deadline.

Damn panthers....

@ Alex, Weiss still has 1 more year on his contract, unfortunately... I want him gone as well asap... I see alot of delusional people on facebook stating that he should be capt. of the team; idiots.

Wow people, they lose 1 game and everybody's rips them. Amazing. They still have 1 game in hand on the Caps, and 4 on the Sens. Calm down.

It's not the "same ol Cats". It's a completely different team. You "fans" are the "same ol people" thou, who'd rather just b#tch and complain.

^^^This.

@ Tallon Rulz - Fans are fearful right now for a few reasons.

1. Panthers are not fully healthy - still some key players injured.
2. Game play seems to have declined a bit since December.
3. Panthers are not in 1st place right now in the division.
4. Panthers are not even placed in the conference.
5. No big trades have been made yet, although there is still a few weeks left before the deadline.
6. We can't get rid of Weiss unfortunately.

@Sloppy Hockey - I'm optimistic now for a few reasons. Counterpoints to all your points, specifically #3 and #4.

1. Most teams are not fully healthy at this point in the season. Even if all players are playing, they're most likely not at 100%.
2. Ebbs and flows for all teams over the regular season, even the B's are slumping as of late.
3. Panthers are 1 point out of 1st, with 1 game in hand on the Caps.
4. Panthers are 2 points out of the #8 spot with 4 GAMES in hand over the Sens.
5. I don't think you'll see many "big" trades this year. With Gleason/Prospal off the market, teams are asking for more for lesser players. Unless you want Jeff Carter.
6. The Weiss line was the best in the NHL early. His play with pick back up with Flash and Versteeg.

Bottom line is, we'll see. But I like their chances of making the playoffs. #8 at a minimum. Which I'll take.

All the naysayers on this board extatic now??? Well, you shouldn't be. Middle of the road people, good Lord.

Every game counts, and the Panthers are closer today to a playoff spot then they were yesterday.

Hey, where are all the naysayers?!?!?!?! Crickets in here...strange.

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