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Capitals score four in third period

2/27/2004

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Hours after trading their top scorer, the
Washington Capitals needed just two periods to find their touch
around the net.

Brian Willsie scored the first of four third-period goals for
the Capitals in a 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday
night.

Willsie's goal snapped Florida goaltender Roberto Luongo's
shutout streak at a club-record 182 minutes, 37 seconds. Luongo
faced 29 shots, 12 in the third period.

Earlier Friday, the Capitals sent Robert Lang, who shares the
league lead in points, to the Detroit Red Wings for Tomas
Fleischmann, a first-round draft pick this year and a fourth
rounder in 2006 to the Capitals.

"We just come to the rink everyday and if a guy's leaving we
wish him well and try to pick up the slack," Willsie said. "It
was tough without Robert but we battled through that. It was a
great win."

Kip Miller, Alexander Semin and Mike Grier each scored for the
Capitals, and Olaf Kolzig made 28 saves.

Mike Van Ryn scored for the Panthers, who lost for the first
time in six games (3-1-2).

Washington posted its first win in four games (1-2-1) and first
against the Panthers this season (1-2-2).

"We did a lot of good things tonight," Capitals coach Glen
Hanlon said. "Right from the start it was fun."

Van Ryn scored a power-play goal at 11:22 of the second period
to open the scoring. His shot from just inside the blue line
deflected in off a Washington player.

The Capitals capitalized on a Panthers' turnover to tie it 1-all
at 4:47 of the third period. Florida's pass from behind its net was
intercepted in the high slot, and Willsie beat Luongo on the glove
side with a slap shot.

"He's a great goalie but we kept driving the net and getting
shots on him," Willsie said. "We're happy to get the win more
than anything."

Breaking Luongo's shutout streak seemed to rattle the Panthers.

"It's a game we needed, that's the bottom line," Luongo said.
"When the score was 1-1, the game wasn't over. We went into total
panic mode, I don't know what happened there."

Miller gave Washington a 2-1 lead at 11:19. Jeff Halpern took a
shot from above the left circle and Luongo made the initial save.
But the puck trickled to the right side of the crease and Miller
poked it across the line.

"Halpern made a good play to kick it towards the net and I
happened to be right where it was," Miller said. "I was lucky to
be in the right place at the right time."

It was the first game this season that the Capitals came back
after trailing in the third period and it came against one of the
hottest goalies in the league.

"We were due. You can't keep the shutout streak going
forever," Miller added. "I'm glad we were here to end it."

Semin made it 3-1 at 16:33 when he stole the puck from Andreas
Lilja behind the net and took a backhander that hit off the post
and went in.

Grier added an empty-net goal at 19:50 to complete the scoring.

"Every game's for us like a playoff game right now," Florida's
Olli Jokinen said. "That's what's so frustrating [about tonight ].
We've got 17 games left and we have to bounce back right away."

Game notes
Washington's Michael Nylander played his first game of the
season after recovering from a broken leg. ... Van Ryn has three
goals and one assist in four games against Washington this season.
... Florida's Jay Bouwmeester saw his first action since missing 18
games with a broken foot. ... The Panther's Vaclav Nedorost left
the game in the second period with a concussion and did not return.