Final

Series (Game 5 of 6)

Florida leads 3-1

Game 1: Saturday, November 22nd
Panthers3Final
OT
Capitals2
Game 2: Wednesday, December 17th
Capitals2Final
OT
Panthers2
Game 3: Friday, January 23rd
Capitals1Final
Panthers4
Game 4: Saturday, February 21st
Panthers2Final
OT
Capitals2
Game 5: Friday, February 27th
Capitals4Final
Panthers1
Game 6: Tuesday, March 2nd
Panthers1Final
Capitals0

Capitals 4

(20-34-2, 50 pts)

Panthers 1

(23-26-3, 62 pts)

7:30 PM ET, February 27, 2004

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 T
WSH 0 0 44
FLA 0 1 01

O. Kolzig (Capitals - G): Saves: 28, Save Pct.: .966

M. Van Ryn (Panthers - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

K. Miller (Capitals - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Capitals score four in third period

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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