NHL Game Summary - Washington at Florida
(Wednesday, March 22nd)
Final Score: Florida 3, Washington 2
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Joe Nieuwendyk and Jozef Stumpel each had a goal and an assist to lead the surging Florida Panthers to a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals at BankAtlantic Center.
Jonathan Sim netted the other goal and Roberto Luongo stopped 28 shots in the win for the Panthers, who have won four straight and seven of their last eight contests.
With the win Florida now has 69 points and currently trails the Atlanta Thrashers by five points for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
"We try not to look at it (the standings)," said Stumpel. "Each game we win it's closer and closer and hopefully we're going to continue the next few games to keep winning. Then we can think about the playoffs."
Dainius Zubrus and Brian Willsie scored goals and Brent Johnson stopped 37 shots in the loss for the Capitals, who have now dropped a season-high seven straight games.
Florida is 7-0 against Washington this year, winning eight straight dating back to the last hockey season.
The Capitals drew first blood with a 5-on-3 power play. Jamie Heward let fly with a one-timer from the high slot that Luongo made the save on. Jeff Halpern snapped the rebound by the goaltender, but it bounced off the left post and went across the goal mouth where Willsie tapped it in from the right side with 1:44 left in the first period.
The Panthers, though, scored three times in the middle stanza and took a 3-1 lead into the final period.
During a 5-on-3 Ric Jackman had the disc in the high slot and sent it to Stumpel at the left side of the net. Stumpel immediately fed the puck across the crease to Nieuwendyk, who one-timed it in 35 seconds into the period.
Nieuwendyk returned the favor when he slid a pass from the left circle to the slot where Stumpel's one-time blast beat Johnson over the glove 6:03 in for another power-play tally.
Again on the power play Chris Gratton let fly with a slap shot from the top of the right circle. Johnson made a pad save, but on his second chance Sim poked the puck under the goaltenders pads 2:23 after the Stumpel goal.
Washington cut into the lead when Alexander Ovechkin sent a pass from the left circle to Zubrus at the top of the right circle. Zubrus cut into the slot and slid the disc past the outstretched right pad of Luongo to make it 3-2 with 12 minutes left in the game.
The Caps pulled Johnson and had a power play towards the end of the game, but were unable to net the equalizer.
Washington continues its seven-game road trip at Tampa Bay on Thursday...Florida hosts the Rangers on Friday...The four-game winning streak is the longest by the Panthers this season...Both teams had 10 power plays with Florida connecting on three and Washington one...Ovechkin leads all rookies with 86 points.
03/22 23:24:07 ET