Final OT

Series (Game 4 of 6)

Series tied 3-3

Game 1: Thursday, December 9th
Game 2: Saturday, January 8th
Game 3: Tuesday, January 11th
Game 4: Sunday, March 6th
Game 5: Wednesday, April 6th
Game 6: Saturday, April 9th

Capitals 3

(36-20-10, 82 pts)

Panthers 2

(26-31-9, 61 pts)

Coverage: NHL

5:00 PM ET, March 6, 2011

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 OT T
WSH 1 1 0 13
FLA 1 0 1 02

A. Semin (Capitals - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

D. Booth (Panthers - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

M. Neuvirth (Capitals - G): Saves: 32, Save Pct.: .941

Capitals-Panthers Preview


It seems the success of the Washington Capitals hinges upon the performance of Alex Ovechkin. With the superstar contributing heavily recently, it's no surprise Washington is making a push for its fourth straight Southeast Division title.

Ovechkin and the Capitals look to reclaim the division lead and win their fourth straight game Sunday afternoon when they visit the struggling Florida Panthers.

Washington (35-20-10) won for the fifth time in six games Thursday, beating St. Louis 3-2. Ovechkin had two assists, giving him 11 points in his last eight games.

Ovechkin likely won't replicate his 109-point 2009-10 season, but his play of late has helped Washington move one point behind division-leading Tampa Bay, which has lost three straight. The Capitals visit the Lightning on Monday in a battle for first place.

Ovechkin has 67 points this season, 55 of them coming in Capitals victories.

Michal Neuvirth stopped 25 shots and improved to 21-10-4, setting the franchise rookie record for wins in a season. Bob Mason held the previous record with 20 wins in 1986-87.

"We can see the guys above us now," coach Bruce Boudreau said referring to the division race.

The trade-deadline acquisition of veteran Jason Arnott from New Jersey also has been a major help during Washington's recent run. Arnott assisted on the tying goal with less than a minute remaining Tuesday before Ovechkin scored in overtime to beat the New York Islanders 2-1, then scored the go-ahead goal in the third period against the Blues.

"He's been around this league for a long time," Boudreau said of Arnott. "He's being used in a different situation than he was for most of the year, so I think he's excited about playing."

Arnott scored twice against the Panthers on Jan. 23 and netted another goal Feb. 4 while still with the Devils. The Capitals may need his scoring again Sunday.

Despite their struggles, the Panthers (26-31-8) have won two of three meetings this season, including a 4-3 overtime victory Jan. 11 in the most recent contest. Current Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman -- acquired at the trade deadline -- scored the winner for Florida in that matchup.

The Panthers made eight trades in February and are still adjusting to a revamped roster. Florida has lost four straight and 17 of 22, including Saturday's 4-3 overtime loss at Atlanta.

The Panthers had scored two or fewer goals in their previous six games.

Newcomer Sergei Samsonov scored Saturday, while David Booth and Stephen Weiss also had goals as the Panthers rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to tie the game.

Tomas Vokoun, who shut out Washington 3-0 on Dec. 9, made 32 saves but has lost six of his last seven starts.

"We got down two goals, but we pushed back and scored two goals," Vokoun said. "We're trying to do the best we can. We traded for a lot of guys. That's stuff you can't control. It's really tough."

Sunday begins a seven-game homestand for the Panthers, but they're 1-5-4 in their last 10 at BankAtlantic Center. The Capitals have won three straight on the road.