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CAPS AGAIN: Panthers Can't Solve Caps in Washington, Lose 3-2 in Shootout

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Kevin Dineen benched his highest-paid forward Saturday night in trying to light a spark under his struggling team.

Dineen got the effort he was looking for, he just didn't get the extra point in the standings.

Washington went 3-for-3 in the shootout to pull out a 3-2 win over the Panthers, the Capitals' eighth straight win over their former Southeast Division rival.

It was a much different scene than Friday's listless home loss to St. Louis in which Dineen seemed about done with his current group of players.

"It was such a different game with the tone, the compete level,'' said Dineen, who sat winger Kris Versteeg for the first time in his NHL career.

Florida trailed for much of the game, yet tied the score at 2 when former Caps winger Tomas Fleischmann fired an off-lined shot that squeeked past Michal Neuvirth with 2:38 left.

The Panthers got a single point in the standings for the third time in the past five games. Florida has now gone without a win in its past five games.

"We have to keep playing this way and the wins will start coming,'' Fleischmann said. "We took a step forward. We played a full 60 minutes, played well. We'll get two points next game.''

Washington, which is now 18-4-1 against the Panthers since the start of 2009-10 season, took a 1-0 lead when Nicklas Backstrom slid into the slot and fired a shot past goalie Scott Clemmensen with 3:19 left in the opening period.

Florida ended up outplaying the Capitals for much of the period, yet Washington found a way to score on one of its rare chances to lead at the first break.

"I thought we played great especially in this building under the circumstances,'' said Clemmensen, who stopped 21 shots in his first start of the season. "I personally felt a little rusty, but they played great in front of me and that allowed me to get into it.''

The Panthers tied the score 8:20 into the second when Scottie Upshall picked off a puck at center ice and deftly landed a pass on the tape of Jesse Winchester's stick. Winchester made a nice move and dove to beat Michal Neuvirth.

The Caps, however, would broke the tie just 36 seconds later and lead 2-1 going into the third.

Florida scored on its final power play opportunity of the night with Fleischmann breaking the Panthers' 0-for-5 run during the game. The Panthers' penalty kill had to be good as Fleischmann took a holding call in overtime.

The Caps went 3-for-3 in the shootout with the Panthers getting just one from Aleksander Barkov as they are now 1-3 in shootouts this season.