Series (Game 2 of 6)

Washington leads 4-2

Game 1: Tuesday, October 18th
Game 2: Monday, December 5th
Game 3: Wednesday, February 1st
Game 4: Tuesday, February 7th
Game 5: Friday, February 17th
Game 6: Thursday, April 5th

Capitals 4

(13-12-1, 27 pts)

Panthers 5

(15-8-4, 34 pts)

7:30 PM ET, December 5, 2011

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 T
WSH 1 1 24
FLA 3 2 05

S. Weiss (Panthers - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

D. Kulikov (Panthers - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 2

B. Campbell (Panthers - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 3

Capitals-Panthers Preview


The Washington Capitals finally ended their slump in their most recent contest, giving new coach Dale Hunter his first NHL victory.

They'll need to string a few more wins together to overtake the resurgent Florida Panthers.

Washington looks to end a four-game road losing streak Monday night when it faces Southeast Division-leading Florida.

The Capitals (13-11-1), who fired Bruce Boudreau on Nov. 28, had gone 2-7-1 in their previous 10 games before a 3-2 overtime win over Ottawa on Saturday.

"It feels good," Hunter said. "It's something you want to get over with right away, hopefully the first game but it ends up being the third. It's one of those things you want to get under your belt and move on."

Brooks Laich scored 12 seconds into the extra session to give Washington the victory in his 500th career NHL game. The Capitals had scored one goal in three straight games prior to the win.

"Try and make baby steps every day," Laich said. "We were better in our second game from our first game and I thought we were better tonight. We get that first win out of the way now and now we get out on the road. We were not getting the results and now we've got out of a little funk with a win."

Washington has won four straight division titles, though Florida (14-8-4) has emerged as a solid contender to end that run.

The Panthers have not been in first place this late in the season since 1999-2000, when they made their last playoff appearance.

Florida is coming off a 5-3 win over San Jose on Sunday to end their road trip 2-2-0. After Monday, the Panthers will play their next three on the road.

Scott Clemmensen made 23 saves in his first start since Nov. 15 for Florida, which fell behind within the first two minutes for the second straight game.

"The team's been this way the whole season," Clemmensen said. "We never feel like we're down. We never get down on ourselves or each other. We have a lot of confidence as a team. One-, two-, three- goal deficits, this team battles, all the way to the end. You never count us out."

Kris Versteeg -- the team's leading scorer -- had two assists to end a three-game pointless drought. However, he has three goals and three assists in his last four home games.

Neither Versteeg nor the rest of the Panthers did much in a 3-0 loss in Washington on Oct. 18, when former Panther Tomas Vokoun made 20 saves in his only shutout so far this season.

It is unclear if he'll get the start, though Vokoun will make his first trip to Florida as an opponent since Dec. 23, 2002, when he beat the Panthers while playing for Nashville.

Vokoun left Florida after four seasons to sign a one-year deal with Washington in the offseason.

Former Capital Jose Theodore, 4-1-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average in his last six starts, likely will be back in net Monday for the Panthers. Theodore, who won 64 games for Washington from 2008-10, is 2-1-0 with a 1.43 GAA in his last four appearances -- three starts -- against his former team.

The Capitals have won three of the last four meetings.